Some people are so attached to their technology that you’re starting to suspect they’re some sort of phone-human cyborg. Heck, maybe that person is you.
There’s a downside to being so connected to your screens. That constant distraction can cause you to neglect those around you and come across as rude.
You can probably get away with scrolling or chatting while you’re on a bus or waiting for your dinner date, but at work, the rules are a little more restrictive. Business Insider spoke with business communications expert, speaker, and “The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes” author Barbara Pachter.
She broke down a few settings where you should steer clear of answering a phone call or a text – lest you look like an ill-mannered ruffian:
When you’re watching a presentation
“It’s rude to the speaker,” Pachter says. “And if you are in a large group presentation and you believe that the speaker won’t see you, talking on the phone is still rude to the people around you.”
What about responding to texts, though?
“Texting when you are in the back of the room during a large group presentation is less rude than talking on the phone, but it is still distracting to the people around you,” Pachter says.
So play it safe, and just avoid your phone altogether.
When you’re meeting with someone
“If you answer a call, you are indicating to the person with whom you are meeting that the person on the phone is more important,” Pachter says. “And sometimes you don’t even know who is calling.”
That being said, certain calls are just that important. So, what should you do if you have to take the call (say, it’s your boss calling from abroad or some sort of family emergency).
“You should tell the person in advance that you are expecting a really important call,” she says. “If you forget to mention it beforehand, you can say, ‘I have to answer this,’ and then briefly explain after the call ends.”
Texts are usually less obtrusive, but Pachter says that the same rules apply when it comes to meetings.
- Florida Memory/Flickr
When you’re in the rest room
This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
“Ugh,” Pachter says. “We don’t want to hear the noise.”
However, Pachter notes that the bathroom is one place where it’s fine to text instead of call. No one will ever know!
- The Library of Congress/Flickr
When you’re in a job interview
“If you have forgotten to turn your phone off, do not look to see who is calling,” she says. “Just silence your phone and say, ‘Excuse me. I forgot to turn my phone off.'”
The same goes for texts. Your interview is focusing all their attention on you – they’ll notice if you try to sneak in a message or two.
When you’re dining with others
Pachter says it’s good manners to pay attention to the other diners, not your phone.
When you’re at a networking event
“Networking events provide opportunities to meet people and connect with others you know,” Pachter says. “Don’t use talking on the phone as an excuse for not mingling.”
Basically, don’t use your phone as a shield. Under most circumstances, it’s rude to prioritize your calls or texts over the people around you.