The Golden Rules of Modern Day Phone Etiquette

Nearly all Britons admitted to having texted, emailed or called someone on the toilet, a study by TalkTalk Mobile revealed. The study delved into the nation’s mobile phone habits to uncover the dos and don’ts in modern phone etiquette.

Constantly checking the phone, being on a tablet or texting during a film and a general lack of conversation because of staring at a screen were also cited among common irritations.

Among the most interesting findings of the study are:

  • Four in ten people have completely misinterpreted a poorly written text – with people not understanding sarcasm the most likely pitfall.
  • Almost a third of the study had an unlucky experience when drunk texting that they’d rather forget, while embarrassing ‘auto correct’ mistakes and accidentally texting the boss had also occurred.
  • One in ten has sent a text talking about a person to the person they were talking about by mistake leading to awkwardness.
  • Londoners were found to have the worst phone manners whilst the Scottish were the most polite.

Jo Bryant, Etiquette Expert at Debretts, underlined:  "Mobile phones allow us to communicate instantly, with ease and spontaneity, but as the TalkTalk survey results show, consideration for others is essential for good mobile phone manners. People in the flesh deserve more attention than a gadget, so wherever possible do not allow your phone to distract you in face-to-face situations".

In addition to this, Dan Meader of TalkTalk Mobile argued that "Nearly 70% of us know someone with bad phone manners - although only a fifth of us thought our own phone manners may be in need of improvement - so our user friendly guide aims to help people weave their way through the web that is modern phone etiquette".

The Phone Etiquette Guide in a Nutshell

Here are some of the most important dos and don’ts of everyday phone use which can be applicable not only in our everyday personal life but also in our professional environment:


  • Think about the choice and volume of your ringtone.
  • Keep inappropriate conversations about money, relationships and work private.
  • Watch where you are walking when texting or emailing on the go.
  • Turn off your phone in important social situations – weddings, church services and at the cinema
  • Watch your language when in a public space.
  • Pay attention to where you are calling from. The echo of a bathroom is a dead giveaway.
  • Think about being overly affectionate in texts – putting too many kisses – if you don’t know the person too well.
  • Give your friend your phone when tempted to drunken call or text.
  • Consider earphone volume when watching movies or programmes on your tablet on public transport or at work.


  • Carry on phone conversations when making a transaction in a shop, bank or restaurant
  • Leave caps lock on when texting or emailing. No one wants to feel like they are being shouted at
  • Check your phone constantly when out with someone. Give them your full attention
  • Use acronyms like LOL, K, G2G
  • Finish a relationship by text. Be brave and do it face to face
  • Forward on ’round robin’ chain messages
  • Use your phone on the toilet

Check out this infographic by TalkTalk to find out more interesting facts about the phone use patterns across the UK. This is a great chance for you to identify which of the ‘bad’ habits outlined in the etiquette guide characterise your phone use and what to do to improve or avoid doing them.