Etiquette is not a lost art. Practicing good manners is about being considerate of others and showing them respect. Those two things are never a lost art, but sometimes we need to be reminded when modern life makes us forget. Nowhere is it more prevalent that we’ve forgotten our manners than when we have a cell phone in our hands. This is doubly true when we’re at the table.
Whether with friends or family, at home or at a restaurant, being on a cell phone at the dinner table is unacceptable. It immediately tells whomever is at the table (and the wait staff) that you are uninterested or ignoring them. Whether you intend to communicate that or not, it comes across as rude and disrespectful.
Here are some general Dos and Don’ts regarding cell phone use at the table:
Do: Be considerate of the people with you and the wait staff.
Don’t: Unintentionally convey disrespect by using a cell phone at the table.
Do: Keep your cell phone on silent and out of sight.
Don’t: Leave your cell phone on the dinner table with the ringer on.
Do: Step away from the table if you have to make or answer a call, and make it as brief as possible.
Don’t: Take a call at the table and speak loudly for those around you to hear.
Do: If you must have your phone available for an emergency situation, ask the others at your table if they mind if you leave your phone in sight. Chances are they will understand.
Don’t: Answer non-emergency texts, calls or social media alerts at the table. Non-emergency distractions should wait until after the meal when you’re no longer in company.
We’re all guilty of violating the rules of etiquette with our cell phones at dinner. I know I’ve personally been called out by family and friends for paying more attention to Twitter stream than the person right across the table. But now I make a concerted effort to be present and polite to the people I’m with, especially at the dinner table. Going out, being with friends, having a great meal and conversation can make for treasured memories. So free yourself from your cell phone for a couple of hours and give your full attention the real life people right across the table from you. I promise you, being present is a gift; no cell phone required.