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Shoulder-to-shoulder mobile manners

What happens when you are on your way with friends and you have to either make a call or take one?  This of course is assuming you are not driving and for some reason, texting the person is not possible.  I would first say that sitting in a car with someone on the phone is personally irritating when the conversation just drags on.  So, when I’m the driver, I can easily say that the conversation is distracting or can they please text instead.  That does the trick.

But what if you need to take the call?  For example, you have been trying to apologize for some unnecessary comments you made about your friend’s weight gain? 

What are the guidelines there, especially if you are friends?

This is a very simple problem and has a simple solution.


You are in a car with fellow passengers and want to make a call.  At the same time, you want to get to your intended destination without being booted out for bad manners. Plus keep your friends.


Just ask.


Yes, this is a very simple recipe.  When you are in a car as a passenger, you should simple ask.

  1. If you want to make a call, turn to your fellow passengers and explain:  “Do you mind if I make a quick call?  It won’t take more than 10 minutes or so.”  Ten minutes is actually a long time to listen to a fellow passenger, so you may not get a thumbs up.
  2. If you get a go-ahead, keep your voice very low and turn away from fellow passengers.  Look out the window and place your hand over the phone.  Whisper loudly if you have to.  Remember:  the people sitting next to you may turn on you.
  3. If the conversation drags on, ask nonverbal questions to see if you can continue.  For example, a thumbs-up sign will ask whether it is OK.  IF you do not get the OK, just wrap up the conversation.

Instead of making phone calls (especially for longer trips) try playing car games or using your device to play trivia guessing games.  It will be more fun and it will involve the entire car.  Or, better yet, text!

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