Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cell Phone Etiquette for College Students


I was on the telephone with a college administrator when her student assistant showed up for work. The administrator, asked me on hold, put the phone down and I could hear her giving work assignments for the afternoon to the student assistant.

While giving the student instructions, the student's cell phone rang. The student immediately answered the phone, jumped up and asked the administrator to wait for a while as she completed her call. The administrator took a few seconds to come back to me and said she needed to do a little professional development coaching and would get back to me.

I imagine I know what happened next. Quite likely the administrator spoke to the unprofessional behavior of her student staffer.

We all know that cell phones are everywhere on college campuses and in the case of many students, considered to be an extension of an arm permanently fixed to the ear. College students talk to friends before classes, after classes, between classes, before lunch, during lunch, after lunch etc. To control the invasion of the cell phone into the classroom, faculty now post signs in classrooms, outside of classrooms and even add notes to syllabi about cell phone use and protocols.

The incident led me to think about a few points of cell phone etiquette for teens and college students at work. By the way, these rules are not meant to in any way diminish the ability of this generation to be flexible and multitask like no other group before.

1. You can't answer your phone every time it rings, especially when speaking with your boss.

2. You can't be sending text messages on your phone while ringing up a customer at the cash register.

3. You can't be speaking so loudly on your phone while in the store room of a major department store, that customers can hear you while shopping.

4. You can't put the phone on speaker, so that you can hear your friend while you continue to work. Other workers do not want to hear your conversation.

5. Your cell phone ringer should not be louder or more disruptive than the office phone ringer.

6. When your employer is giving you assignments, get a notebook. Do not take notes about work on your phone and take those notes with you, especially when others are expected to come in and pick up on the same assignment.

7. If you are at work, the public restroom or the lunch counter is not the quiet place to take calls.

8. Leave your phone in the office and do not bring it into meeting unless you are expecting important, revenue generating calls, and voicemail won't do.

9. Don't give customers your personal cell phone number and do company business that way.

10. While you are at work, on company time, for heavens sake---remove the earpiece!

I did not get to follow up with the administrator so I don't know exactly what she said, but I am pretty sure some of these rules were included.

Maybe I shouldn't assume that only college students need reminding of these rules. Feel free to share.

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