Phone Etiquette Around the World
25 Jan 2017

25 Jan 2017

Phone Etiquette Around the World

25 Jan 2017

From the U.S. to Egypt to Russia and China, let’s uncover how people from around the world use their cell phone and what the proper phone etiquette is.

Ever wonder how a person living in Russia answers their cell phone? Or why it’s not considered rude to answer your cell phone when you’re talking to somebody in China?

Cell phone usage is on the up and up, and people around the world are using them in different ways.

And while you may think there is a global cell phone etiquette everyone follows, there really isn’t. Each country has their own take on answering a cell phone and what is and isn’t appropriate etiquette.

Let’s take a look at how people from around the world use their cell phone.

global cell phone etiquette

1. The United States

Let’s face it:

As Americans, we have bad habits when we talk on our mobile phones. Many of us may not even know what is and is not appropriate.

There are many unwritten rules – like not speaking too loudly on your phone in public – that users must be aware of.

What is appropriate and what the majority of cell phone users do is silence their phone in public, like at a movie theater or a meeting. But, it’s commonplace to see Americans texting all the time – up to a third of Americans prefer texting than phoning. People who text can be walking, eating, talking to others and even on the toilet!

And, what about the time? Is it inappropriate to phone someone at 10 pm? Yes, it is, unless you have permission to call or it’s an emergency.

2. Russia

People in Russia are wary of the phone. Typically, when answering the phone, Russians don’t say anything, or just might start the conversation with, “Who is it?”

Why? Most Russians don’t have a cell phone, and since the KGB days, people are still hesitant in giving away information on a phone in fear of being overheard.

And because of their fear, voicemail is not common in Russia. So, instead of leaving a message, you’ll have better luck if you call back later in the day.

3. Egypt

While it’s acceptable to answer the phone with a, “Hello?” and go right into the meat of the conversation, in Egypt, this is a big no-no.

Many people in Egypt start off a call with pleasantries and want to know about your health, where you’re at, and confirming that everything is fine. This can go on for about five minutes before you can talk about the reason you called in the first place.

People here also give up their phone number to anyone they meet – on the train, at the store or on the street. You might think you can get out of exchanging phone numbers, but most Egyptians will call you on the spot to check to see if you gave a dummy phone number.

So, don’t get upset when a complete stranger calls you in the middle of the night asking if you arrived safely at home from the train ride.

4. China

While in the U.S. it’s considered rude to answer your phone during a conversation, in China, this is perfectly normal.

With the large crowds you see in China, it’s normal for phone users to talk on the phone whenever and wherever. Here’s one person’s experience:

In China, I was shocked the first time somebody answered a phone call while I was in the middle of a meeting with them. I had been in mid-sentence when their phone started ringing, and they immediately answered like it was no big deal. And of course, in China, it really isn’t a big deal.

Apparently, depending on your status in China, if you have a high status you can answer the phone at any time and others are expected to ignore your conversation. However, if you don’t have a high status in China, you can still answer your phone whenever, but you might have to duck under a table or cup your hands and talk in a hushed voice.

5. The UK

The UK has had cell phones for as long as people in the States have had them, so most phone etiquette is similar.

It’s considered rude to phone before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. – unless it’s work related or you know the person who you are calling. It’s also considered rude to eat while talking on the phone, so save your lunch for after you make that phone call.

Finally, in the UK, it’s customary to let the phone ring up to 10 times before the answering machine picks up. This is twice as long as users in the States let the phone ring.

Wrapping it Up

Here at Tekoia, we love cell phones. Not only can you use them as a remote if you download our SURE Universal Remote app, but a smartphone can be used as a camera, as a watch, as a health tracker, and much more. But, of course, the fundamental use of a phone is to communicate with others and all over the world people use phones differently.

If you’ve been to another country, please share your stories on phone etiquette.

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