I think most people would agree, even if through anecdotal evidence, that listening to someone talk on their cell phone in public is pretty annoying.
That brings up an interesting question though! How come sitting in a coffee shop and listening to conversations going on around you isn’t annoying and/or distracting, but listening to someone on the phone is bothersome?
After all, its still just the sound of talking, right? Logically, it shouldn’t make a difference if it’s one person on the phone or two people discussing the weather, right?!
Fair question, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that listening to just one side of a conversation really bothers me! I don’t know why, but it does, and I can’t be the only one!
Until today, the only proof I had of that concept I had was my own experience (which is terrible “proof” of any larger concept).
But check this out!! Just a few years ago, researchers at Cornell looked into this very thing!
You can read the article, it’s pretty short, but here’s the gist according to one of the researchers:
“Hearing half a conversation is distracting because we are unable to predict the succession of speech. It requires more attention,” said first author Emberson. “We believe this finding helps reveal how we understand language in conversation: We actively predict what the person is going to say next, and this reduces the difficulty of language comprehension.”
The experiments the researchers conducted showed that people overhearing cell phone conversations did more poorly on cognitive tasks that demanded the kinds of attention we use to tend to daily activities, than when overhearing both sides of a cell phone conversation or a dialogue, which resulted in no decreased performance.
“Since halfalogues really are more distracting, and you can’t tune them out, people become irritated [and], even more importantly, their cognitive performance is impaired,” Goldstein added.
Is talking on the phone overtly rude, say like, cutting in line? No, of course not. But now that we have evidence that talking on the phone in public is distracting to others, wouldn’t it be rude to continue to do so?
I sure think so.
But hey, I know that avoiding phone calls 100% in public is not realistic. So when I do have to have a conversation on the phone in a public place, I’d first, try to kee it short (if I hear someone trying to wrap up a conversation in a timely manner, I’d consider that a polite gesture). If I know it won’t be a short conversation, I’ll remove myself to a place where people aren’t trying to concentrate on things (like working or reading in a coffee shop).
Hey, maybe I’m being overly sensitive here!? Let me know what you think by giving us a follow on your social media platform of choice and joining the conversation!