Q: A woman is talking on speakerphone on public transportation, and it's annoying and disruptive. Is it OK to ask her to take the call off speaker?

A: Smartphones are only as smart as the people using them. Don't subject others to your conversation in confined spaces, including buses, restaurants and offices. Not only is it distracting and annoying, but without full disclosure to the person on the other end of the line that the conversation is taking place in public, you risk them sharing private details that are intended for your ears only.

But you silencing your phone doesn't address the issue of other people's rudeness. Try saying something direct but polite: "Excuse me, can you please take your phone off speakerphone? It's very distracting." If they refuse, follow it up with, "Would you at least mind lowering the volume?"

It can be awkward to approach someone, even in a polite way, about how loud they are talking. Your best bet might be to move farther away from the offender, if possible.

LISA GROTTS, the "Golden Rules Gal" etiquette expert

A: Speakerphone conversations are not appropriate in public. This is an invasion of personal space to those around you.

That being said, on public transportation, I would avoid telling someone to get off the phone for safety reasons. This is a rude behavior one has to endure oftentimes. Attempt eye contact to see if the woman gets the hint. If you feel comfortable, you could even say, "It might be more appropriate for you to have this conversation privately." Or make a joke: Say, "I am not sure you want all of us to hear that conversation."

If it's a friend having the conversation, by all means, tell her to get off the speakerphone ASAP.


etiquette expert