I am pretty sure I wrote a piece about this a few years ago but it’s time to update and refresh. This will include etiquette in general, for business, for friends and family. And, more importantly for you, the smartphone owner not being owned by your phone.
Let’s start with friends. If you are out with friends and constantly checking your phone, texting other people, emailing even more you should look for a new group of friends. The only time it is acceptable to look at your phone is before everyone is there. You can text about traffic delays or whatever. Once everyone is there the purpose of your getting together should be to enjoy everyone’s company, not to be checking Facebook or Twitter to see if people are contacting you. At the end of the evening if you are having a car pick you up or waiting for a ride home it’s totally acceptable to have your phone out. If you can’t put your phone away for a few hours to hang with friends you need new friends. Or, your friends need to dump you because you are being rude.
I should state here that when there are extenuating circumstances it’s fine to have your phone out. If you are waiting to hear a loved one’s doctors report; a child’s performance, your own doctors report. There are many things that are time sensitive, closing on real estate. All of that is in a different category and should be explained to everything attending so they will understand.
Next situation, business meetings. Turn off your phone and don’t look at it anytime you are with a client. It’s not only rude and disrespectful it’s something that can end a business relationship. The only exception would be is if you are waiting on per tenant news regarding that client. I can’t tell you how many people I worked for who would look at their device during a business meeting with a big client. Stupid move.
Family, I think my brother put this in place in his home while their kids were growing up. No phones at the dinner table. I like that idea. When you have dinner, at home or out, no phones. You are there with your parents/children. Take a breather and enjoy what’s important.
If you are in any of the situations above and are expecting an important call/text/tweet alert people before hand so if you get up and check your phone it won’t seem rude.
The most important part of this piece is, do you control your phone or does it control you? I, for example always leave the volume/ringer off on my phone. Whomever calls, texts or tweets will have to wait until I decide I feel like looking at my phone. I don’t jump at the tone of a new email. If you are the type that does jump at every new text or email I suggest you try what I do. Keep the ringer off, check it every hour, then every 2 hours. You rule it, don’t let it rule you.
When I was in Naples a few weeks ago it was so liberating to leave my phone in the house. Like I said, I am not a prisoner of my phone, but I am used to picking it up and tweeting something. Unplugged was nice. Try it.