Manners Matter: Answering Your Phone

Dear Mary Pat,

My mom always uses speaker phone when she’s in public. She says it’s the only way she can hear, but it’s really awkward when we are in a restaurant or a store. Since she’s a little hard of hearing, she’s shouting into the phone and then everyone can hear the other side of the conversation too since the volume is up. She doesn’t realize how annoying it can be to others. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. How do I explain this to her?


Silence is Golden

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.


Dear Silence is Golden,

She’s your mom. You have to tell her and just be direct. “Mom, I know it’s a little harder for you to hear now, so I don’t think you realize how disruptive it is when you take a call in public.” She’s probably always looked out for you, so now you can do the same and explain that it’s better to take a call outside or away from a group of people. You can also tell her that it’s OK to let a call go to voicemail too. I think we are all trained to pick up a phone when it rings, but sometimes it’s just not appropriate to answer a call. If she still feels like she has to answer every time, you could also tell her that it’s OK to say, “I’m with ____ now and we’re having lunch. I’ll call you later.” If you take the time to explain this patiently and without criticism, I’m sure she’ll understand.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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