You might love that new song by Sam Smith but not everyone else does, so next time you immerse yourself in your favourite sounds, bear in mind that other people might be able to hear the tinny sounds and annoying drumbeats leaking out through your headphones. 

Here's our essential guide to headphone etiquette...

[Read more: 17 etiquette rules for using modern technology]

1. Think about fellow passengers

If you ever use public transport, music is a great way to pass the time but the person being squashed against the window on your commute doesn't want the added annoyance of your headphones blasting.

Just set the volume to a medium level, which will not only do your fellow passengers a favour but is also kinder on your poor ear drums.

Another solution is to get some overear headphones, as they're far less likely to leak sound.

2. Don't go shopping with both headphones in

When shopping you need to be aware of your environment, and you're going to get on everyone's nerves if you walk around Tesco with your headphones in, stepping back from a shelf oblivious to the fact you've just sent some mother and her child swerving to avoid you with their trolley.

If you can, remove one headphone so you can get a sense of your surroundings.


3. Take your headphones out at the till

When you get to the till in a shop remove all headphones completely, as it's rude to act as though the checkout assistant doesn't even exist...

4. Don't raise your voice - take them out

I'm trying to talk to you, so please don't just speak louder to hear yourself. Take your headphones out and engage in conversation properly - your music has a pause feature so it can wait.

But in defence of headphone wearers, when approaching someone with headphones in on the street perhaps get the hint that they want to be left to their own devices.

5. Someone driving you in a car? Headphones out...

Is the driver's music not good enough for you? Or are they not interesting enough to talk to? Similar to point 3, keeping your headphones anywhere near you during a car journey is rude. It shows you want to be elsewhere from the driver and other passengers, so switch the music off.

And don't let your own kids get away with it, even if it does mean five minutes' peace. Otherwise it's just teaching them a very bad habit they'll carry on doing.


6. Don't sing or hum along

You can't hear yourself so you're probably ruining a perfectly good song by singing along or humming in public. It's just plain annoying for others, so avoid it - even if it is a catchy tune.

7. Eating time is sharing time

Unless it's dinner for one, sitting with headphones in as you eat is another example of rudeness - no matter how much your siblings or other half get on your nerves.

Eat, chat, enjoy.

8. If you have to listen to something in public, always use headphones

While we've stated how headphones can be annoying to others, they are far less annoying than music or voices being broadcast from your phone's speaker. If you absolutely have to hear something from your phone, it's always best to plug some headphones in as no one else is interested in overhearing your music, no matter how cool you think the tune is.

[Read more: 13 rules of modern mobile phone etiquette]