Q: A woman is talking on speakerphone on public transportation, and it’s annoying and disruptive to you. Is it OK to ask her to take the call off speaker?
A: Smartphones are only as smart as the people using them. Don’t subject others to your conversation in confined spaces, such as trains, buses or subways. When others can hear your dual conversation, it’s distracting and annoying, and without full disclosure to the person on the other line, you may be sharing private details.
Try saying something like this to get a fellow train passenger off speakerphone: “Pardon me, but were you aware there is a no-cellphone policy on board,” or, “Would you mind lowering your voice. I don’t want to miss my stop home?” Or try, “Excuse me, can you please take your phone off speakerphone?”
We are all free to talk on our cellphones in the open space when nobody is forced to hear our conversations, so it can be awkward to approach someone, even in a polite way.
— Lisa Grotts, the “Golden Rules Gal” and etiquette expert
A: Speakerphone conversations are not appropriate in public. This is an invasion of personal space to those around you. Long and personal conversations are not for public display; cellphones should be used for quick and short conversations in public.
On public transportation, I would avoid telling someone to get off the phone for safety reasons. This is a rude behavior one has to endure oftentimes. Attempt eye contact, to see if the woman gets the hint. If you feel comfortable, you could even say, “It may be more appropriate for you to have that private conversation privately.” Or make a joke: Say, “I am not sure you want all of us to hear that conversation.”
If it’s a friend having the speakerphone conversation, tell her to get off the phone ASAP. In a joking tone, simply tell her that she is being rude and that she should take that person off speakerphone.
? Akilah Easter, etiquette expert
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