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Phone Сall Etiquette in Europe

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Photo: Martin Cooper, an American citizen born to immigrants from the Kyiv region of Ukraine made the world's first call on a mobile phone, Source: Wikipedia, The Gaze
Photo: Martin Cooper, an American citizen born to immigrants from the Kyiv region of Ukraine made the world's first call on a mobile phone, Source: Wikipedia, The Gaze

In 1943, Hryhoriy Babot, an inventor born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, and a graduate of the Kyiv Polytechnic University, proposed the idea of a mobile phone.

Three decades later, on April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper, an American citizen born to immigrants from the Kyiv region of Ukraine, made the world's first call on a mobile phone. The small Chicago-based company Motorola put the world's communication giants on the spot and opened the door to a new era of mobile communications.

Today, we can talk to anyone, anytime, without the need for wires, regardless of borders or time zones. Gadgets and high-speed internet make communication available 24/7. This transformation has also altered the way we communicate.

Nowadays, the world faces new, unwritten rules of "telephone etiquette". And although the classification of such norms is arbitrary and often differs depending on age, social or national characteristics, there are universal standards that will help you avoid awkward situations during phone calls.

In the UK, it is considered extremely rude and inappropriate to eat while talking on the phone; the Japanese do not talk to strangers on the phone; Germans usually introduce themselves along with a greeting... 

Spain: Spaniards love to communicate both in person and over the phone. Even in public places, it is considered normal to discuss private details without taking into account unfamiliar surroundings. At the same time, they also try not to violate personal boundaries. Ignoring a phone call is seen as disrespectful, so it is fairly likely that Spaniards will find a way to answer the phone or send a message asking you to call back later.

Poland: Poles, especially the younger generation in big cities, have a reputation for taking their cell phones with them wherever they go. People often check messages, answer calls or emails. It is also considered normal to scroll through your phone in public transport, before a work meeting, or while sitting at a restaurant with friends waiting for your order to be served.

Finland: Finnish citizens used to have an image of introverts, but this has changed with the development of technology. Today, for the country where the legendary Nokia was created, text messaging is more common than calling, and it is considered improper to talk on the phone in hospitals, government offices, or churches.

Italy: In Italy, people prefer concise, to-the-point conversations. Traditionally, Italians answer phone calls with the word "Pronto", which means "I'm ready to listen". If you want to send a voice message to Italians, it is better to keep it short. Italians believe that wasting time with long, lengthy messages is a sign of bad manners.

France: In France, talking loudly on the phone in public is seen as impudent, as much as discussing personal details. It is quite common among the French to turn off the phone while eating.

Bad manners

Despite national peculiarities, there are several universal ways to gain a reputation of a rude person anywhere in the world. Don't do this unless you want to come across as rude and annoy the people around you. 

- be distracted by calls during a face-to-face conversation; 

- talk loudly and emotionally on the phone in public places;

- discuss private and intimate matters on the phone in front of other people; 

- make phone calls over and over again until you hear an answer;

- talk on the phone and send text messages during important events, during a sermon at church, or a family dinner; use your phone while driving or operating special equipment; 

- send personalized text messages to strangers without introducing yourself;

Good manners 

Plan your call: A call requires a direct and immediate response, regardless of what the person being called is doing at the moment. Is it convenient for them to talk? Is it comfortable to "hang up" or put the phone on silent?

In some communities, making an unannounced call is considered unacceptable, but there is still no consensus on the inappropriateness of "unpredictable" contacts.

In any case, it will be more comfortable for all parties if you pre-arrange the call.

Write a short message about the topic and context of the conversation and find out a time that is convenient for both parties. For truly urgent calls regarding an emergency, send a simple message: "call me," and briefly specify that the issue is urgent. For example, use the abbreviation ASAP - As Soon As Possible.

Write text messageIf you are trying to break the news, ask a question, or pass on specific information, it is appropriate to write a short text message in a messenger or email. Reading a short message usually takes less time than participating in a conversation. In addition, today's smartphone features make it easy to "dictate" a text, as a voice message is automatically transcribed into letters.

Live a Voice message: A short video or voice message is a good option if you want to express your emotions, share your impressions, or tell a fascinating story. Voice messaging has become especially popular among young people during the pandemic, when the ability to see and hear each other in person was limited.

Find the right place: It is important that during the conversation you are not disturbed by unnecessary sounds or the presence of other people. If you're discussing sensitive topics, it's better not to start the conversation in a coffee shop, crowded shopping mall, or subway.

In case of video calls, the situation can be even more complicated. After all, strangers can get into the scene without their own will, which can be completely inappropriate and, in some cases, illegal.

During video calls, it's also important to choose the right angle - a comfortable one for communication. It's preferable if the screen doesn't show a single part of your body, such as your ear or nose, but your entire face. Another rule of comfortable communication is to have a static image when you are sitting quietly in front of the screen, not moving or washing dishes.

Do not respond unless you are ready: You are under no obligation to answer the phone. Likewise, the caller has no right to demand that you answer immediately. If you're busy, working, or just taking a shower when someone calls you suddenly and without an announcement, it doesn't mean you have to pick up the phone. Mute, hang up, or send a quick message and return to the conversation when you're comfortable with.

*** 

At first, it was believed that the smartphone would give people unprecedented freedom of communication. Today, researchers are focusing on the downside of this development: the possibility of online communication is increasingly alienating people from direct communication with each other.

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