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Earbud Etiquette

Seeing people walk down the street appearing to be talking to themselves is not as strange as it used to be. Nor is it strange to see them tapping their feet to a beat that you cannot hear. Aha! Earbuds — aka “headphones.”

Earbuds are great! A hands-free private phone conversation from anywhere. A concert of your personal playlist at your desired volume. Nothing better.

But, there are rules — or at least courtesies — you should keep in mind:

  • Turn your earbuds off and take them out of your ears when you meet someone with whom you wish to speak. If the volume remains on, you will tend to talk above the music and probably shout. If your earbuds are still in your ears, the person with whom you are speaking might wonder if you are listening to him or to someone (or something) more interesting.
  • Keep the volume in your earbuds low enough so no one in the same room can hear what you are listening to, or even the beat of your music.
  • When using the earbud microphone, speak in your regular phone voice. Earbud microphones are pretty sophisticated. Don’t scream — you don’t have to.
  • Keep a pair of earbuds on your bedside table. If you wake in the middle of the night and wish to watch a movie, the news, or a video on your mobile device, be courteous to your partner.
  • If you are in an earbud conversation and someone approaches you and speaks, motion to her that you are speaking/listening to someone else, or she will assume you are listening to her. Likewise, if you approach someone with earbuds in his ears, get his attention and confirm he can hear you before you begin speaking to him.

Always good to be aware of proper etiquette. ‘Ear ‘Ear!