It seems everyone has a smartphone these days, and they are helpful in so many ways. There are times and places, however, when turning your ringer off and tucking your phone away will go a long way toward polishing up your image.
Here are a few places and situations that cry out to be smartphone-free.
1. Business Meetings - in person AND video:
Sitting in a meeting while something is being presented and ideas are being shared, is not the time to be trying to beat your high score on Angry Birds. Also, place your phone on vibrate and OFF the table where you are sitting. A vibrating phone on a table can be every bit as disruptive as a loud ringtone.
If you are sitting in a virtual meeting, or a video chat, the same rules apply. Looking down at your smartphone so that the other participants only see the top of your head doesn't bode well for your business image. Stay focused, engaged, and fully present in the conversation, whether you are physically present or virtually present.
Note: Be mindful of the ringtone you choose as well. Gangsta rap or Donald Duck ringtones are likely not going to win you any points with your supervisors or co-workers.
2. Business Events - lunches, dinners, networking functions, and conferences:
These situations are more likely to involve public venues. Phone conversations, flashing notifications, and always-attached Bluetooth headsets convey to others that whoever is communicating with you on your smartphone is more important than the people communicating with you face to face.
If you are in court or in an attorney's office on official business, now is a good time to turn your phone completely off. The middle of a deposition is not the time to be distracted by social media.
4. Theater and Live Performances:
There is a well-known viral video of an audience member's phone ringing during a Broadway performance. The actors on stage made the owner of the cell phone part of the show by ad-libbing, thus embarrassing him for his ringtone faux pas. Would you want to be that person? Wait until intermission to check your voice mail.
Movie theaters, while obviously not live performances, are still locations where smartphones need to be tucked away. Be courteous to those around you. A bright light on your screen, a loud ringtone, and flashing or noisy text notifications all take away from other moviegoer's experiences. Take your call to the lobby if you need to make or take a phone call.
Weddings are a very special time for the bride and groom. They are joining their lives together and speaking very poignant words of commitment. It's a time when your smartphone ringer should be silenced. Also, using your phone's camera during the ceremony, in any way blocking the professional photographer, is the ulimate in rude. Save your wedding paparazzi pictures for the reception.
Lastly, for your safety and the safety of those around you, pull over and stop if you want to take a phone call or respond to a text, play around with your playlist, or update your Facebook status. It can wait.