One day last year, a message popped up on my screen.
"Please write an article about phone etiquette. Some people don’t realize that their video call can be a disturbance to the person at the receiving end.”
I had some insider information about the context in which this request was made. I had my suspicions about whom this article written by me was supposed to target too. And I could understand the actions of both sides – the one creating the “disturbance” and the one perceiving it as disturbance. Being able to see this entire picture has its own disadvantages – I can’t get myself to endorse one side while criticizing the other for the simple reason that I think both sides are equally justified in what they did.
I’m sure many of us face such annoying situations. People who are busy at work don’t like being disturbed by a video call just because their status showed they were online. People go online for work-related reasons too, but this may be difficult to understand for someone who only uses the Internet for social media in their leisure time. On the other hand, who can blame someone for feeling an urge to connect with a dear one on impulse, or to convey wishes on a special occasion? In today’s world where people are more likely to grow further apart than closer, one must also cherish the gesture someone makes to reach out.
I know a guy whose first sentence on the phone is, “Are you free to talk now?” I find it a very thoughtful practice. I know someone else who sends a text message, asking if I can take a call right then. Equally good. I know someone who never cuts a call but takes just a few seconds to say hello and inform the caller that she’s busy and will call later. I know people who switch off their phones or leave them behind, when they really cannot afford a disturbance.
There can’t be any dos and don’ts for such situations. How someone responds, depends totally on the type of situation at that given time, and also on the individual’s nature. The only guideline that can help (both sides) is to try to grow better at anticipating the other person’s situations, and to assess the impact of one’s actions before pressing "Call" or swiping the icon to green or red.