Phone Etiquette in the last decade

The following script was originally written on December 22, 2004 by Paul S., founder of Sexaholics Anonymous Phone Bridge.

Suggested SA Phone Meeting Guidelines and Etiquette

(to be read periodically or when new members join, or if needed)
1. When qualifying or sharing, we try to avoid graphic terms that may trigger lust in some participants.  For example, many groups use the term “sex with self” in the place of masturbation. We also avoid the language of lust in other words please refrain from profanity….especially sexual words…..  such as the ‘F” bomb.

2. We also avoid mentioning specific geographic locations so as to not trigger others. For example one California caller mentioned all the beautiful people on a  certain commuter train line everyday and next thing a New Jersey regular was thinking how he needs to fly out and go on a commuter train 3000 miles away just to see if he can handle it…. Moral- please don’t hurt us by giving us new knowledge that our addicts can use.

3. In order for SA to remain a safe place for recovery, looking for acting-out or romantic partners in a phone meeting is strongly discouraged.  Therefore, caution needs to be exercised when calling each other between meetings. For example, it is suggested that phone numbers not be exchanged between male and female members.

4. Some people breathe more heavily than others and we may not realize it. So, we ask everyone to hold the mouthpiece of their telephone handset a bit away from their mouth and nose, unless they are speaking. Smokers are asked to blow away from the phone. Please mute your phone “before” you eat a bag of potato chips.

5. If we need to carry on with other activities during the call it is important to check with the group that we are not making noise that interferes with the meeting. Going outside and/or starting your car can be very distracting. Press the 5 key on your phone to mute and the 4 key to unmute and speak, or better yet save us the beeps and just use the mute button on your own phone.

6. Speakerphones do not transmit clear sound and pick up background noise, so we try to use speakerphone mode only if we are quietly listening.

7. To avoid interruptions during the meeting, it is suggested that we turn the ringer off the second line if we have a two-line phone and that we disable call-waiting by dialing *70 prior to calling the bridge number.  Call-waiting will automatically reset when we hang up.

8. Pets: If we’re on a small phone meeting our dog will probably woof at exactly the time needed for some comic relief, so it’s not usually a problem.  But if we’re on a large phone meeting and our dog, cat or orangutan gets frantic, it’s probably best to put them in another room! : )

9. By attending the meetings and sharing in a sober way (not a drunkalog, or everyday of how issues of 30 years ago or even thirty days ago have us stuck. We should encourage members who are stuck at insobriety per the White Book to get a sponsor, and work the Steps….. attend face to face meetings etc..

10. There is only one day we can do something about……Today.  In 1963  if  you had a realization that Donald Duck in Disneyland didn’t have any pants on but just a shirt, and it haunts you still, try therapy or whatever, but SA meetings are not the place to process it, especially day after day. We all know the problem. We do not share the problem in SA meetings. In SA we share the solution.

11. Doing service …by being prepared to chair the meetings and/or having literature handy when you call in.

12. By helping the meetings be as real SA as possible, so feel free to politely challenge newcomers who think it may be a chat line, or a social club. We do not need to know they just walked the dog, or that they are taking another call from their astrologer, or by their interuptive questions asking if Joey in East Jabip is online, or how is the traffic on highway 666, or what is the reading, and then just share what they did all day anyway…. Really shouldn’t we all show up on time and stay for the entire hour meeting? If one’s work environment is frantic or disruptive please spare us and just go on mute, rather then jump in and out, saying here I am, then announcing I am leaving, and later breaking in “I am back”……if someone walked in and out and in again to a face to face meeting and announced it loudly every time would it be tolerated?  Certainly to share on topic is great, but don’t ask for recaps, then assume we all have been just waiting for their share with baited breath… Newsflash your mother and us are not on the SA phoneline waiting for you to announce you are home!

13. In the same vein please challenge cross talk (or questions and answers) between callers as it is against tradition and just rude to the other callers.

14. By carrying the message, taking telephone flyers to face to face meetings and letting others know of this SA resource.  What have you done to help the phone meetings “Carry The Message”.

15. By staying sober and letting others know the phone meetings are helping you achieve the sobriety. Lets become the soberest wing of SA, lets all be able to say, and mean THAT JUST FOR TODAY I DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE SEX WITH MYSELF OR ANYONELSE (EXCEPT MY SPOUSE) NO MATTER WHAT….. AND MY (WHITE BOOK) SOBRIETY (AND SEXUALY ABSTINENCE) ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN MY LIFE!  It is my impression sober people are saying it, and unsober ones aren’t. Try saying it. Keep saying it. Eventually you will mean it.