Mobile technology has progressed a lot in just a short time, but mobile etiquette has failed to keep its pace. Bluetooth and other hands-free technologies are not only convenient, but also allow you to multitask, so you can drive more safely or use your hands to perform other tasks besides holding your phone.
But is it right to wear your Bluetooth headset in a public settings, such as in a meeting, at a school function, when eating with friends, or at the store as you do your shopping?
Even more important, how should you have a conversation in a public space?
You have probably seen someone talking animatedly to what appears to be an invisible friend, but did you also see how uncomfortable the nearby people seemed to be?
The problem is that people who constantly have wear Bluetooth devices make it difficult for those around them to determine whether the conversation is directed at them, or the person on the other end of the line. To avoid the embarrassment, the following tips on Bluetooth and hands-free technology etiquette can be of assistance:
1. Be selective when using hands-free Bluetooth devices in public places. While they are ideal for calls in the office, car, or when cooking, use your handset when communicating in public to give those around you a visual sign that you’re speaking on the phone.
2. Privacy and Volume: be aware that everyone around you can hear your conversation, or at least what you are saying, so avoid shouting or speaking about things that should be left in private. If one of you cannot hear the other person clearly, go to some less noisy place to finish the conversation instead of yelling in the presence of strangers.
3. Timing: when you are on or off the phone, be respectful to the person you are talking to by focusing your attention on the conversation without being distracted by the others. For instance, when you are dining at a table, there is no need to wear your Bluetooth device. You have no intention of discussing business over the phone as you try to enjoy the meal, but if you are expecting something, leave your handset in silent mode and use discreet text messaging to communicate vital messages in places such as meetings, restaurants, and movie theatres. If you have to answer the call, excuse yourself and exit before you begin talking.
4. Be careful of your facial expressions while talking on Bluetooth in public. Making strange faces can distract your colleagues, or cause a spectacle in public, especially if those around you don’t know that you are having a phone conversation.
5. Don’t let your conversation distract you from your activity, especially when you’re driving. For your own safety, it is important to use hands-free devices while driving, though you should always keep both hands on the wheel.
While techno manners are still evolving due to the “newness” of 24/7 connectivity, everyone should participate actively in shaping what proper phone etiquette is, especially when using Bluetooth and other hands-free gadgets. This will help to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings with family, friends, coworkers, and the general public.