Step away from your phone

tin cansTimes are indeed changing due to our relationship with our digital tools. What once was impossible is now possible because of our smart phones. We no longer need to wait until we get back to our home or office to make a call, look something up online or send an email. Smartphones, as well as tablets and laptops, have made all of this possible anytime. But here’s the rub, just because you can use your digital device anytime and anywhere doesn’t mean you should.

A friend of mine was at the gym working out on a cardio machine with headphones on enjoying her peaceful workout when she heard someone talking VERY LOUDLY. She looked around and noticed it was a young woman talking on her phone while also on a cardio machine. My friend pointed out to this young woman that she was disturbing other people. The talker said, “But it’s my mom,” as if that justified the disturbance. After a few back and forth exchanges, the young woman eventually took her call away from others and returned when she was done.

What’s wrong with this scenario? Well, to start with, I’m assuming the young lady was at the gym to work out, not talk on the phone. She can do that any of the remaining 23 hours in the day when she’s not trying to get her daily burn. Secondly, others are at the gym to exercise, not listen to someone talk on the phone.

Here are some other times you absolutely should not use your phone:

  • First, even second, third and fourth dates. Your date will probably not want to go out with you again if you find your phone more important than him or her.
  • Weddings and Funerals. You’re there to mourn the deceased or celebrate the betrothed, not check Facebook, or post photos of the event to Facebook. These are important events; give them the attention they deserve.
  • Movie theaters and playhouses. That bright light is a total bummer. Really, it is.
  • Job interviews. Need I say more? Apparently I do, because I’ve heard more than once about people answering or looking at their phones in interviews. Guess what? They didn’t get the job.
  • Meetings with your boss: unless your boss is mute and prefers communicating via text.
  • Client presentations. You can kiss that contract bye bye.
  • In the bathroom. Eww!!

While you are certainly free to use your phone in any of these situations, consider the impression you’re making on others if you do. Are the social and professional ramifications worth it? You decide.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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