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May 3, 2012

'Who's calling?' Phone etiquette around the world

What is the best way to answer the phone around the world? Do different countries have different rules when it comes to phone etiquette? Nokia Connects investigates…

via digital medicine

I’ve just spent the last week at a conference in Egypt, and one of the things that struck me the most while over there was the way my Arab colleagues answered their phones. Here in England (and in North America too, to a certain extent) it’s perfectly acceptable to answer the phone with ‘Hello?’, or even ‘Yes?’, and then dive straight in to whatever conversation you wish to have.

Not so with my Egyptian friends, who would spend the first five minutes of any conversation exchanging formal greetings and niceties that included everything from the weather to the extended family of the caller – even if they were complete strangers. This started me thinking: are we English just incredibly rude and abrupt when it comes to answering the phone, or is it that different countries – and different cultures – have different rules when it comes to telephone etiquette? A little research revealed that the latter is true.

In my native Italy, for example, people generally answer the phone with ‘Pronto’, or ‘ready’, and it is also acceptable to simply say ‘Dimmi’ (‘speak’) – something that would certainly be considered rude by British standards. In many other European countries, including Germany and Denmark, it is normal to state your name when answering the phone, whereas in Mexico and Russia (countries with history of phone tapping and bad lines) people tend to be more wary about giving their personal details away over the phone.

via digital trends

These differences don’t just apply to how people answer the phone, but extend to the way phones and phone conversations are perceived as a whole across geographic and cultural barriers.

In countries where mobile phones have been around a long time, it has become commonplace to see people checking their phones while doing almost anything – walking, talking, eating, even on the toilet! Phones have become a fast and easy way to stay connected to people – even many people at once through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter – and it has been reported that nearly a third of American prefer texting to talking.

In countries such as India, Africa and to some extent South America, where mobile phones are a more recent development and are expanding rapidly, people tend to use their phones less for texting and more for calling people – especially any relatives that might be living far away.

But despite these differences, there are certain types of behaviour that are considered unacceptable in any society. Talking loudly on the phone on public transport, or speaking in public about private matters are frowned upon pretty much anywhere. Texting or checking your phone while talking to someone else is also considered rude, as is answering the phone in a restaurant/cinema/theatre/concert etc.

via Angela Marshall

And if all of these rules and regulations frustrate you, you can always take part in the annual World Mobile Phone Throwing Championship in Finland and vent your anger by flinging your phone as far as possible!

What are your ultimate phone etiquette rules? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Nokia_Connects