Bluetooth Etiquette

Real Estate Agent

As I was leaving my office yesterday, I was waved over by an elderly woman sitting in the lobby of our building (which we share with a couple of doctors' and law offices).  She was sitting with another elderly couple obviously waiting for their ride, when she motioned for me to come over.  I walked over and said Hello, wondering what on earth she could want to ask me that was so urgent...

 "Young man, what's that thing sticking out of your ear? Is that a little cellular phone?" she asked with a slightly quizzical, yet intrigued gaze at my Bluetooth headset. 

 "Yes," I replied, "well it connects to my cellphone, so all I have to do is push this little button on the side to take calls."  

"Wow, that's FANCY!" was her reply, accompanied by a huge grin. (Wow, I think she actually understood what I meant.)

"See nowadays," I continued, "I think some of us have gotten so lazy we can't even reach into our pocket to make a phone call!"  And all three of them burst out laughing (I said this in an obviously jocular way, which luckily they picked up on), and the gentleman said, "Nah, it's just that you must be so busy you don't have time to keep reaching for the phone."  (Yes, I wish this were true.)

 Bluetooth Headset

This encounter got me to thinking about all of the agents (and everyone else, frankly) that can't seem to function without these little electronic appendages growing out the sides of their head.  For some, myself included, it is merely a convenience, while for others, it is an absolute necessity.


How many times have you begun to respond to someone, only to realize they were actually having a conversation with their earpiece and hadn't even noticed you until you so rudely interrupted their call?  Probably more times than you can count on your fingers... and I bet its getting annoying.




So here are a few bits of Bluetooth Etiquette that I hope we can all start to follow. 


1. Tell the person on the other line that you are using the headset. Not only is this a simple courtesy, but this way if they are having trouble hearing you they can ask you to pick up your handset.


2. Remember your "Inside Voice."  Sometimes we need to speak up to be heard on the headset, other times we simply forget we have other people around us that are working.  Either way, try to keep it at a conversational volume level.


3. Maintain your Situational Awareness. (A piece of advice I learned in Navy Flight School). Translation: keep aware of what's going on around you.  Some people get so wrapped up in their conversation that they begin wandering aimlessly, arms flailing about, etc.  Just try to stay focused, and remember you're not having an out-of-body experience on your Bluetooth phonecall. (That technology is still in beta-testing somewhere). 


4. If you're going to be "negotiating" (read: arguing) please revert to your handset or step outside.  This goes back to Rule 2. 


5. Let people around you know that you are on the phone. Point to your ear, silently mouth the words "on the phone," or come up with some way to let people know that you are not talking to them, but rather to the invisible client in your ear.


6. Learn these words: "I'll call you back. I'm in the car."  If you can't walk and chew gum at the same time, then you can't drive with your headset on.  It's as simple as that.  Being on the phone in the car, even when hands-free, gives many people tunnel-vision.   If you are one of the people that ends your phone call and thinks, "Now how the heck did I get all the way here?", then you probably should hang up before driving.


7. When you're in a meeting, at an open house, showing buyers a home, or anything that involves actual interpersonal communication,  put the headset in your pocket.  People want to know that you are focused on them and what they are saying; when you keep the headset on, you are effectively sending the message, "I'm here with you now, but I'm waiting for someone more important to call."


 Bluetooth etiquette blog picture

I hope these are all simple rules we can each start to follow.

If you agree or you have more that you think I should add to my list, leave a comment. 

I am always interested in how other people view the little gadgets we use every day. 


Thanks for reading!!  And remember, don't be a Bluetooth Badguy!  

Comments (12)

Denise Brophy
Re/Max Realty Specialists - St Johns, NL
I like it Anthony.  All good points.  I like #2 use your inside voice, so many Realtors get into the shouting mode over their headset it becomes uncomfortable for everyone around them.  Thanks for the reminders.
Mar 17, 2007 07:32 AM
Stefan Scholl
Buyer's Broker of Northern Michigan, LLC - Petoskey, MI
Northern Michigan Real Estate

Anthony, I finally broke down and got one of these.  Although I think they look pretty dorky, they do come in handy when driving.  Much more difficult when using these outside of the car.  I will oftentimes approach people who I think are trying to ask me something or strike up a conversation, only to find out they are gabbing on the phone.  Pretty embarrassing!  I think these will have a chilling effect on socializing.  People will become unwilling to engage someone else, for fear they are talking on their headset.

Mar 17, 2007 08:08 AM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

I am with Stefan! Cell phones in general have killed real life socializing.  People go out to restaurants and places to "relax" and constantly pick up their phone, ignore their guests at the table and the wait staff.  It is embarrassing to them, IMHO. 

My bluetooth is for when I am in the car or when I am doing an activity that needs two hands - like computer searches while I am on the phone.  For the most part you won't see me with my bluetooth unless I forgot to take it off after driving.  I can drive and talk at the same time :)

FYI:  Situational awareness happens when people are on their cell phones, no blue tooth necessary.  I am sure you clients would LOVE to know that you just talked about their escrow to the whole entire restaurant you are in :)  It's about common sense.  As far as situational awareness while driving in my car and on my bluetooth - I am an animated talker and I get people staring at me at lights.  I wave hi and sometimes blow a kiss :)

Mar 17, 2007 12:09 PM

I'm just getting used to a cell phone and have been introduced to the blue tooth! I'm seriously thinking of getting one.  Your etiquette rules are great - I will be sharing them with my friends and colleagues, especially with the one that I keep having a one-sided conversation with. More than once I thought she was talking to me. You'd think I'd get it by now!!

I so agree with Stefan and Renee about loss of socializing.  I was walking behind three pre-teens and each one was carrying on a conversation - not with each other but on their own personal cells.  I'm sure they thought it was cool but How sad is this? While I'm at it - I have heard many a private conversation that I didn't want to hear - in the card store; at motor vehicles; at restaurants; at work.....    I try to remove myself but it's hard to find a space where no one is on the phone.  Now I'm becoming obsessed with looking for drivers who are NOT on their phones!   My goodness I need to get a life!!


Mar 17, 2007 12:27 PM
I have one more rule to add.... If you must have an extended phone conversation while in a store, please do not walk up to a store employee and start talking in their direction, then treat them rudely for responding to your questions!!!  I had a woman walk up to me at the jewelry counter at Macy's several years ago, before these headsets were popular, and she began asking all these questions.  I got very flustered and tried to answer as best I could, only to have her glare at me, turn her head, and continue the conversation in front of me.  I then had to read her mind and find her some bracelets to try on, while she continued whatever business call she was on.  I was first quite embarrassed and then very annoyed!!
Mar 18, 2007 11:08 AM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer
I second Samantha's notion!  I worked in a restaurant.  People are on their phones, their bluetooths, their PDA's and they don't even pay attention to what is going on.  They order while they are on their phones, bluetooths and PDAs and then get all bent out of shape because they didn't order correctly and it somehow becomes everyone's fault but their own.  Communication is whack these days!
Mar 19, 2007 03:10 AM
Anthony DiMattia
Rochester, NY
CBR, E-Pro

Thanks for the comments, I knew there would be people to sympathize with me on this.   While I do use the technology, I am still a bit annoyed by people that can't function without it (and honestly can't seem to to function normally while using it either!).


If you think these rules may help some people with their Bluetooth manners, please pass this link on!!

Let's see if we can actually make people aware that constantly jabbering into their earpieces is getting on our nerves!   

Mar 19, 2007 04:51 AM
Anthony DiMattia
Rochester, NY
CBR, E-Pro

Along the same lines.... Has THIS Ever happened to you?

Click to Play Bluetooth Video  (Disclaimer: It's a beer commercial - please note I am not promoting the beer...)



Mar 19, 2007 08:14 AM


 Great Article, Anthony and very helpful comments by everyone. Renee, I definitely agree about how rude it is for people to be on the phone while at the same time try to order or pay for an item. I would also like to get a bluetooh, but only for the car. I really have no need to walk around with this in my ear all of the time.

May 09, 2007 07:33 AM
Maximiliano "Max" Carrillo
AMor REALTY / North Carolina - Charlotte Metro - South Carol - Charlotte, NC
Everytime I see someone with a Bluetooth piece I think they have been assilimated into Star Trek's Borg. For me to resist that "look" is not so futile.
Jul 07, 2008 11:35 AM
Beth Larsen
RE/MAX Sedona - Sedona, AZ
Sedona Arizona

I know this is a really old post, I was just cruising for bluetooth opinions. You make some good points, and I have to say that is one HILARIOUS video!

Feb 07, 2011 07:54 AM