'Butt dialing' and the nine new deadly sins of cell phone use

Thou shalt not use bad phone hygiene, take pictures at funerals or make untoward braggadocio

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4. Bad phone hygiene

There are two common manifestations of this problem. The first is lending a phone to someone and getting it back full of face-grease smudges. The second occurs when you lend your phone to somebody, who hands you it back to you and says something like, "I hope you don't catch my cold."

Avoid bad phone hygiene by being thoughtful and remembering that most phones have smooth surfaces that easily pick up smudges. And a little common courtesy, please, if you have a cold. Or be like Baker.

"I'm a germaphobe," she says. "I just don't lend my phone to others."

5. Bad headset denial

It's hardly a secret that it's difficult to hear some cell phone calls. Sometimes, the problem is just a bad connection. Other times, though, a person's headset is either poorly positioned so that it rubs against the person's jaw, creating a lot of noise or is too far away from the mouth.

"When that happens, you get about 30% of the conversation," Grenny says. You go, 'Uh-huh,' just to fake your participation in the conversation."

The problem: Some people will deny vociferously that their headset is at fault. Avoid bad headset denial by taking the time to adjust your headset before blaming the other party for bad reception. Also, ask the person on the other end of the call whether he can hear you clearly.

6. Inappropriate headset use

One form of this sin is that some people speak loudly while using a small headset. The result is that the sinner appears to be talking to himself. The second manifestation is wearing your headset when it isn't appropriate.

Those two issues can come together in public restrooms.

"All of a sudden, somebody says something in the bathroom and you know you're the only other person in there," Baker says. "It makes you wonder how important that call is if it couldn't wait two minutes."

"Guys will stand at a urinal and continue their conversation all the way through," Grenny notes. "I always wonder if they're really good friends with the person they're talking with."

Winkler has a simple tip to avoid this sin. "A headset is small and it's easy to forget it's on, but don't wear it if you're not talking on the phone," she says.

7. Phone camera abuse

Because they are a potential security threat, many companies don't allow use of cameras in their facilities and won't buy camera phones for employees.

In public, though, camera phones turn everybody into potential paparazzi and can be a source of significant discourtesy. Grenny says that one respondent to his company's survey on mobile phone abuse told of somebody taking a picture of the corpse at a funeral.

"People feel that if something happens in public, it's fair game for their phone," Grenny says. "But I'm not sure I want somebody taking a picture of my wife's kiss at an airport when I'm leaving on a trip."

Avoid phone camera abuse by remembering the general rule of thumb used by professional photographers: "If it's not a public figure doing something in public, you have no right to snap photos unless you have permission," Grenny says.

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