'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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8. Crunchy calling: Eating and talking

This sin is similar to using your phone while in the bathroom in that it results in the person you are talking with hearing your body at work.

"People don't understand that their chewing sounds are being heard so loudly," Grenny says.

"Sometimes people ask if it's OK to eat and talk, I've done that with friends," Winkler says. "But half the time, I just hear crunching in my ear. Depending on my mood, I'll let it go or sometimes I'll ask, 'Is that a potato chip you're eating? What flavor is it?'"

Avoid eating and talking by, well, avoiding eating and talking. And if you're the recipient of a crunchy call, let the caller politely know that you'd prefer to talk when he's done eating.

9. Public speakerphoning

Sometimes, speaking obnoxiously loudly isn't enough for cell phone sinners: They need you to hear both sides of the conversation, so they'll put on their speakerphone in public. A related sin is loud, public push-to-talk sessions.

Grenny came across this sin most recently in the breakfast area of a motel. "Two guys were hunched over a phone and were yelling into it. They were having a fight with the other person about something, and they were vulgar and loud. This went on for 20 minutes, and not a single person said anything to them."

Avoid public speakerphoning by only using the speakerphone on your cell phone when absolutely necessary, and only doing it in a private place.

Just say no

Being around others who are behaving inappropriately is always uncomfortable, but the consensus among those contacted for this article was that you have to do something.

"Public manners are shaped through public conversation," Grenny says. "A lot of people are waiting for [cell phone] manners to catch up with other areas, and that won't happen until people politely tell others when there's a problem."

The level of politeness required when confronting a cell phone miscreant is open to debate. Some think firmness is the best approach while others counsel avoiding confrontation. In any case, those who participated in this story agreed that unless loud-talkers, butt-dialers and other phone sinners are reminded of their actions, mobile phone annoyances will continue and increase.

David Haskin is a contributing editor specializing in mobile and wireless issues. What's your vote?

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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