By Mary Young

Polite and Powerful

Did you know that July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month? If that sounds like an oxymoron, try to lighten up. You can chuckle, and get good information on promoting cell phone civility, at

The rules of common cell phone courtesy are well known but widely ignored. The challenge for the polite majority is to confront offenders without being rude ourselves.

One of the most annoying situations is being trapped in a public place with someone who is carrying on a loud conversation. I’m always tempted to ask the offender to “say hello for me.”

There’s always the passive aggressive approach – the “cell glare” – but I find it difficult to get the cell phone user’s attention so I can glare at them.

It might help to find the positive side. When you look in the rear view mirror and see the driver talking on the phone, think of it as an opportunity to practice your defensive driving skills.

Yes, there will always be cell phone abusers, but help is available. Barbara Pachter, author of the book “The Jerk With The Cell Phone: A Survival Guide for the Rest of Us,” offers five tips to help people deal with cell phone jerks politely and powerfully:

1. KEEP YOUR COOL. If you can give a cell phone jerk the benefit of the doubt, you’re less likely to lose your temper when dealing with one.

2. BE POLITE AND POWERFUL. Speak up, but be polite. Say something like, “Can you please lower your voice, your conversation is disturbing us.”

3. KEEP YOUR BODY LANGUAGE IN CHECK. You can say “Please” and “Thank you,” all you want, but if you’re clenching your teeth or wagging your finger, you’re not being polite and powerful.

4. USE A CPEG CARD. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking up, hand the person a Cell Phone Etiquette Guideline (CPEG) card that says something polite and powerful like, “Hi. Can you please put your phone on vibrate? The ringing is disturbing us.”

 5. LET IT GO. If it’s a minor and passing annoyance, or if you’re concerned for your safety, let it go. You’ll be less stressed that way.

Mary Young is Associate Editor of the Oahu Island News.