Manners – Mobile Phones at theTableBy Angela Marshall, 5th Aug 2011
I have heard several discussions on mobile etiquette at the table recently and how people find their use in public places rude and irritating whilst several others seem to think it is now part of life. As always there is no one right answer. A lot will depend on the company you are with e.g. their age, personality and what they expect. Plus whether it is a personal or business environment.
It is important to remember that etiquette is the rules of social behaviour that have evolved over centuries, whilst manners are how these rules are applied and over the years they have been relaxed and adapted to suit modern times. However, good manners are about being considerate to others and making them feel comfortable.
There are differences between social and business etiquette, but having good social skills enhances your reputation. In business it will sharpen your image and gives you the competitive edge and will stand you out from the crowd. Whether we are in business or a social environment people like being with people they feel comfortable with and whose company they enjoy.
Whoever we are with we mustn’t allow the convenience of a mobile become an excuse for rude interruptions when in conversation with people. If you are expecting an important call, inform the people you are with. Always try to take calls away from other people. Don’t discuss important business matters in a public place where other people can hear. When possible set your phone to buzz or vibrate in your pocket, rather than ring.
Good manners may not be commented on but bad manners never get forgotten.
It is not that long ago that mobile phones were not an issue at the table, but times have changed. However, it is not the done thing to use your phone at the table and to me the dining table remains a strictly mobile-free zone and unless something is absolutely urgent in which case you explain at the outset that you will have to take the call, and apologise in advance to your business or social friends or guests and explain the urgency. Put your mobile to silent or vibrate mode before sitting down to eat, and leave it in your pocket or purse. When it buzzes excuse yourself from the table and step outside.
Text messaging during a business meal is also unacceptable and is improper at a business meeting.
Mobiles are a means of assisting our communication and should not be a way of bringing it to an end or distrupting it. We can appear as though we aren’t able to communicate properly face to face or we have more interesting people we wish to converse with.