10 Tips to Becoming a More Mindful Smart Phone User
By Jacqueline Whitmore
Last night while I was having dinner at a nice restaurant with my husband, I couldn’t help but notice the young, attractive couple sitting at the table next to us. They were clearly having a romantic dinner —with their smart phones.
The woman was checking her Facebook page and the man was texting someone. This went on periodically throughout the evening. It’s not surprising that 86% of singles polled by the online dating site Zoosk said the worst cell-phone related behavior during a date is “constantly glancing at a cell phone.”
Technology is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, talking, texting, and tweeting keeps us informed and entertained. On the other hand, our smart phones keeps us disengaged from friends, co-workers and family members. The best way to avoid alienating or offending others is to think before you act.
July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, an event I founded in 2002, with the intent of making cell phone users more respectful of their surroundings. Here are 10 tips to observe while you’re out on a date or having dinner with friends or family:
1.) Put people first, technology second. When you’re on a date, especially a first date, the person you are with should always take precedence over social media as well as calls you want to make or receive.
2) Keep it out of sight. Remember not to place your phone on the table while you’re having dinner. This signals that a potential caller is more important than the person you’re with.
3) Silence your phone. Keep your phone on silent mode in your pocket or in your handbag. Keep it on your lap, underneath your napkin, if you’re waiting for a very important call.
4) Excuse yourself. If you have to take an important call, alert your dining companion ahead of time. Excuse yourself from the table and find a quiet place to carry on your conversation.
5) Avoid “cell yell.” If you do take the call at the dinner table, keep it as brief as possible. Use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your phone.
6) Avoid ridiculous and loud ringtones: If you forget to put your phone on silent and it happens to ring or ping, don’t ignore it. Apologize and silence it immediately.
7) Keep it private. Avoid discussing private matters or confidential information in public places, especially a public restroom.
8) Use discretion. It’s permissible to pull out your phone on a date on three occasions: to take a picture with your date, to show your date pictures of a family baby or pet, and to find the answer to a perplexing trivia question that comes up in conversation. If on a date with multiple couples, show the photo to everybody at the table so no one feels excluded.
9) Ask permission. If you must take out your smartphone while on a date, always ask permission first. Something like, “Do you mind if I take out my phone to…?” If taking photos with your date, always ask for permission before posting them to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter or Instagram to respect his or her privacy.
10) Take a break. Challenge yourself to leave your smart phone at home or in your car while you’re out on a date. Unless you’re a doctor on call, most of us can live without our phones and social media updates for a couple of hours.
Jacqueline Whitmore has established herself as a prominent presence in the etiquette industry and is a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows. In addition to being the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin’s Press, 2011), Jacqueline is the Founder of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month in July. You can learn more about Jacqueline by visiting her website.
Click here to view post on the July/August 2014 issue.