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Mid-song, she put down her guitar and spoke to the audience. “I’m an artist,” she explained. “I can’t perform for you with interruptions. If you can’t come to a concert without turning off your cell phones, then please leave.”

Mid-sentence, the speaker rustled his notes and gathered his wits. “Folks, if you can’t sit here for 40 minutes without getting up to use the restroom or taking a call, please sit in the back. It’s very distracting.”

Mid-sermon, the pastor closed his Bible and addressed the crowded sanctuary. “I’ve spent a lot of time preparing this message for you. If you can’t sit here for 40 minutes without taking a cell phone call, then just don’t come.”

These three examples happened within three days of each other, in small towns and big cities, in venues large and small. Even the 24-hour donut shop has taped a handwritten sign taped to the drive through window that reads, “No cell phone use at the window. Think of the driver behind you!”

How do you handle cell phone use in your company? Is your staff permitted to carry a cell phone when they are with a customer, making a sale, providing service or making a delivery? Do you answer your phone or reply to text messages when you’re talking to someone else? Do you look at it to see who’s calling or texting? Even if you don’t answer, you’ve sent the clear message to your customer, your coworker, your spouse or your child: “It might be someone more important than you.”

Do a group exercise at your next staff meeting. Plant a cell phone and call it. How many people turn to look? How does the mood change? How many cell phones are in the room? Do you know how to turn it to vibrate? Can you can silence your phone while blindfolded?

Ms. Jones can talk on her cell phone all she wants, you can’t do anything about that. But as for you, it’s inexcusably rude.

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