Cell Phone Etiquette 101

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

I was meeting with a group of clients today, and then it happened.  My Real Estate Winchester VAcell phone went off.  My cell phone going off isn't that unusual, but in a meeting, it's terribly unusual for me.  I try to always flick it to vibrate before I enter a meeting if I carry it at all.  I don't want the discussion to be sidetracked by a ringing cell phone.  Today, I forgot.

There are certain things I think every business professional should do when relating to his/her cell phone.  They are definitely important tools in our arsenal of business weapons, but they are also annoyances for others when we're in the midst of an important conversation or negotiation.  Let me give you a few things I would love to see happen in the business world of cellphones:

  • Silence your cell phone before you enter a meeting.  That was a no brain-er.  If you're expecting an important call relating to the meeting, make your counterpart aware right away so that when it comes it will be accepted as expected.
  • Move away from the group when you take that call, and complete the call out of hearing range of the participants.
  • Make is as short as humanly possible. 
  • If you're not expecting a "meeting related" call, leave your cell phone in your car.  If your family isn't in some sort of crisis, a few minutes probably won't hurt anything.  What did we do in the 80s?
  •  Get rid of the Hendrix "Wild Thing" ring-tone.  I note that one because I love Hendrix, and if I was going to be wild and crazy with my phone that would probably be my ring-tone.  It's hard to take you seriously with some pop tart blaring on your phone when it goes off in a business meeting.
  • At the risk of sounding like a heartless child hating maggot, don't have your three year old make your phone answering message.  I'm sure your little ones are amazing, mine were, but an incoherent child blabbering on a business call is not only annoying, it's aggravating while you wait through the two minute chatter-bomb to explain that you need another signature on a legal document, pronto!
  • Avoid the three year old answering message by answering your phone when possible.  I can't tell you how much business I get each year from clients who couldn't get the listing agent on the phone.  I love it, but kills the bottoReal Estate Winchester VAm line for others.
  • Don't text during a business breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks or anytime you're in a business dialog.  It's just rude.  If you have something that needs to be taken care of, excuse yourself and go take care of it.  There is little more obnoxious than watching someone who is supposed to be listening to you texting while you're speaking.  It's obvious that they're not interested. 
  • Get crazy and leave it home for a night out.  Wow!  Now that's an "out there" idea!  If you're like me, my wife has one anyway.Real Estate Winchester VA

My own cell phone faux pas reminded me of my love/hate relationship with the cell phone.  I can't imagine doing business without one, but I actually do remember when I did, and I did OK.  


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  1. Kamal Salim 02/10/2012 07:32 PM
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mike cooper
cellphone etiquette 101

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Rodney Mason
On Q Financial - Atlanta, GA
FHA 203(k) & HomeStyle Renovation-AL,FL,GA,TN

I hate when agents or other professionals who use their cell phone for business have a generic computerized greeting.  It still amazes me how many agents don't take the time to record a professional greeting to callers.  When I leave a VM, I just hope I have not mis-dialed am really leaving a message for some random person. 

Feb 11, 2012 09:26 AM #87
Carol Rutgers
Keller Williams Realty - Bluffton, SC
Quality service using technology for your benefit

I agree that it is annoying when cell phones ring or when participants text during meetings.  My Droid3 phone allows me to check a setting in the calendar that automatically sets the phone to vibration mode during meetings.  I only need to remember to put the appointments into my calendar!  :-)  It always seems that other agents call me for feedback during showing appointments when I have already emailed feedback to them!  Oh well.

Feb 11, 2012 10:17 AM #89
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Common sense jumps in there at some point. I put mine on Vibrate. But if my daughter calls sorry I am taking it. My rules have always been the same. Family comes first. Never have lost a deal because of that. Won't change that part.

Feb 11, 2012 10:40 AM #90
J. Philip Faranda
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY - Briarcliff Manor, NY

I could do without the 2 1/2 minute voicemail greetings that recite your personal mission statement as well. It is bad enough that I can't reach you, don't make me wait to leave a message. 

Feb 11, 2012 01:17 PM #91
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX Solutions - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

I let an agent go for their crude ring tone after they wouldn't change it.  Phone courtesy applies for business and personal life.  Good information to live by.

Feb 11, 2012 02:01 PM #92
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Mike - Good suggestions for cell phone etiquette.  I have difficulty leaving it behind, but no problem putting it on silent.

Feb 11, 2012 02:32 PM #93
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


I think we are all guilty of forgetting to turn our cell to vibrate.  It is the way you handle the call that is important. 

Feb 11, 2012 02:40 PM #94
Joni Bailey
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

Today one went off at my Uncle Bill's memorial service. Of course, it took them forever to find it and turn it off. 

Feb 11, 2012 03:26 PM #95
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

The only thing on the list that can't agree to is leaving the phone in the car -- it can get stolen if left there and in Arizona, one would not leave anything electronic in a hot car in the summer -- cars get to 120++ degrees easy.

Feb 11, 2012 03:38 PM #96
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Mke I agree with you almost 100%.  Except I leave my phone on vibrate 99% of time.  My message says call the office.  If they leave a message I will follow up in 2-4 hours.  That way I an not interrupting my schedule or my client"s appointment time!

Feb 11, 2012 08:08 PM #97
Peter Michelbach
International, IT
i Sell Real Estate

Hi Mike, excellent post, a great conversation and timely reminder..overt or covert, accidents -  happen. Viva la etiquette! Thank you for sharing.

Feb 11, 2012 11:38 PM #98
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Thanks for all of the great discussion and comments.  I didn't add in the list that my family has priority over my cell.  My wife and kids don't call me frivolously throughout the work day.  So, if I see their number pop up I do excuse myself and take the call.  I've never had a client or business associate complain.  I'm sure most would do the same thing.  I think we all agree that the bottom line is to be courteous and use wisdom.

Feb 11, 2012 11:42 PM #99
Linda Fidgeon
Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Page Realty - Wrentham, MA
Make your next move your best move!


You are right on the money. I tell all new clients that I have a policy of not taking phne calls while I am with a client. So, if you call and I don't answer, you can be sure I will call back as soon as I am free. It also means ehwn i am with you, you will have my full attention.

On a personal note, the thing that bugs me enormously is people who talk on their cell phones in restaurants. ARRRGHHH!!!!!

Feb 12, 2012 04:58 AM #100
Kim Mulligan
Cooper Jacobs Real Estate - Seattle, WA
Selling Homes for the 21st Century

Great Post Mike,

I agree with every point. I know I will sound like a child-hating-evil-meenie, but the whole adorable child thing only works with the first time you hear it. After that, it's tedious. Your follow up to too young children actually answering the phone took the words right out of my mouth.

I know I am dating myself, but remember the days before pagers and answering machines when you actually had to be in a physical home or office to answer a phone? This was when the Cuban Missle Crisis was averted, Man Walked on the Moon, and the Beattles were reinventing music. Yes, things indeed do move much quicker now, but I do enjoy leaving my cell far from where I am enjoying myself doing something else, if there is no immediate foreseeable problems on the horizon. Below is an example of a gracious cover of a cell phone gaff.


Feb 12, 2012 07:19 AM #101
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life


The other end of the phone call also has manners.  When you dial someone and they pick up, ask if they have time to speak. 

There are times when I will answer a call, as a courtesy, and I don't have the 3-5-10 minutes the call will require.  I do have 45 seconds, and if the caller has a quick question, it's great.  But if the caller wants to get into a serious dialog, there have been times when I'll have to suggest that I was on another call, and really can't give the attention they need at this time.

Courtesy...it works both ways.


Feb 12, 2012 02:07 PM #102
Murray Scotton
Royal LePage Benchmark - Calgary, AB

Mike great reminders...if I was on the other side of the table I wouldn't think I was important to the person that takes continual phone calls.

If there is an incoming call I'm expecting I'll let my clients know that it could be coming in during our meeting.


Feb 13, 2012 05:13 AM #103
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

When I am in the presence of a client I will ask if they mind if I answer a call.  I do tell my clients I will not answer my cell when I'm with a client, unless I'm expecting a call relating to them.

Feb 14, 2012 06:32 PM #104
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - BoiseMeridianRealEstate.com - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

My phone is both my friend and my foe.  I actually have a love/hate relationship with it and if I ever got out of real estate or had a job that didn't require me to have a cell phone I'd throw it in a pond and never look back.  With that said, I love your post. -Kasey

Feb 22, 2012 04:14 AM #105
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

thank you very much for the informative and interesting post. I get so much out of the active rain network.

Mar 06, 2012 01:20 AM #106
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Thanks, Paul.  Have a great Tuesday!

Mar 06, 2012 01:38 AM #107
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