There was a time where we were told not to talk with our mouth full or interrupt others while they are talking. Now that most of the population has a cell phone, we tend to take the face to face interactions for granted as soon as a call comes through.
A friend pointed out the cell phone struggle to me that she had to participate in a conference with her colleagues. She mentioned there were a few individuals who insisted on having their cell phone ringer on during the conference. Not only did the ringtone interrupt someone sharing important information, but then the individual left to answer the call and missed facts. Then, the same information had to be relayed to the individual upon their return. After multiple instances during the same conference, it becomes a waste of everyone’s time to wait on someone because they feel a phone call is more important than employee’s time.
Having good etiquette means that you value the person’s time and the information they have to share. When you are face to face with another person, you must be sure to give them eye contact and reassurance that you are interested without appearing distracted with your phone or any other technology device. It was bad enough with cell phones, but it is becoming increasingly worse with the addition of tablets and always having the internet nearby on these devices.
Another key symptom is using the cell phone in line at a retail checkout counter. The individual becomes increasingly distracted and the sales clerk must repeat instructions multiple times when an individual is not paying attention to the activity at hand. Such manners are demeaning to the sales clerk, especially if they then have to chase you down in the parking lot because you failed to walk out with all of your items.
There are indeed those rare cases where you must choose to have a cell phone ready at a moment’s notice during a lunch meeting. If this is indeed the case, place your phone on the table in silent mode and explain to the other party’s at the table that you are waiting on an urgent call. Otherwise, keep on silent in your pocket and forget about even having it with you until your face to face time is over.