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5 Places You Should Never Talk on Your Phone, Etiquette Experts Say

Experts advise you to avoid making or taking any calls at these times.

Communication has never been more convenient than it is today. We tend to take our phones with us everywhere we go, which allows us to easily do things like call to schedule an appointment or catch up with a friend at any moment. But just because you can doesn't mean you should. According to etiquette experts, there is a time and place for everything—even when it comes to taking or making a call. To avoid any public faux pas, read on to find out the five places they say you should never talk on your phone.

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Public trains or buses

Mid adult businessman feeling displeased while talking on mobile phone and commuting by bus.

You might be tempted to use your transit time to make certain calls—but you should stick to texting while on public transportation.

Tami Claytor, an etiquette expert and the owner of New York City-based consulting firm Always Appropriate: Image & Etiquette Consulting, says many people see their train or bus ride as relief from their hectic day and often want to use this time to read or take a quick nap.

"But in an enclosed space, such as a bus, it is difficult to drown out the cacophonous barrage of noise; for example, a one-sided phone conversation," she explains. "Listening to someone else's long phone conversation is disruptive, thus denying other passengers a moment of peace."

Check-out lines

At the Supermarket: Checkout Counter Customer Pays with Smartphone for His Items. Big Shopping Mall with Friendly Cashier, Small Lines and Modern Wireless Paying Terminal System.

There's nothing more annoying than being held up in the check-out line by an inconsiderate and oblivious person. So you should never take a phone call while in this space because you run the risk of being exactly this person, according to Lisa Mirza Grotts, a 23-year certified etiquette expert.

"Don't be the one everyone is giving dirty looks to in line," she advises. "Give all your attention to the checker so the next person in line can be served. Then, you can talk freely in the parking lot on the way to your vehicle."

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Public restrooms

Public toilets that are partitioned into rooms.

Even if the person on the other end of the line is fine with talking to you while you're on the toilet, doing this when it's a shared space may make other people uncomfortable.

"It might be tempting to make a call between stalls while using a public restroom, but it is best to avoid this," warns Ryan Hetrick, a psychologist, therapist and the co-founder of Epiphany Wellness. "Not only is it a violation of privacy, but there is a potential to pick up germs and bacteria from other areas of the restroom."

Sit-down restaurants

Close up of a group of friends enjoying food at a restaurant and using a mobile phone

You might not think twice about taking a quick call at the table, especially if you're still waiting for your food. But Claytor says it is actually "extremely rude" to talk on the phone while dining with or among others.

"The appropriate way to handle this situation is prior to answering the phone, you excuse yourself from the table," she recommends. "Before beginning the conversation, you go to a private location."

If you're expecting a call and you're already at a restaurant, Claytor also advises letting everyone else know beforehand. "You could say 'I'm expecting an important call and may have to step away from the table."

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Co-working spaces

Smiling young businesswoman sitting in a table in an office lounge and talking on her phone while working on a laptop

Open floor plans and co-working spaces are more common for offices nowadays, according to Caroline Reidy, an expert in work etiquette and managing director of The HR Suite. As a result of this transition, she says workers need to be more cautious about exactly when and where they're talking on the phone.

"All too often people take calls, virtual and traditional, in these spaces and disrupt others," Reidy explains. "Good phone etiquette includes being mindful of those around you. At the very least limiting the volume of your conversations to a respectable level should be attempted but ideally, you should try to take calls in private spaces."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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