Phones at Table

Phones at Table

If there is anything that we carry with us at all times, it’s our mobile phones. ‘Smart’ as they are, they keep us connected, updated and in touch with everybody and everything else.

The question that so many keep asking is whether it is acceptable to use your mobile phone at table. When you are at table with others, the phone should remain off the table. Whether it’s a breakfast meeting, a business lunch, a romantic dinner or a casual coffee meet up, the reply is the same. However, when we do find ourselves in the situation where it is impossible to turn it off, put it away and forget about it for a couple of hours, then it’s best to be clear and inform the others that you are expecting a call or that you would need to check on important emails. Needless to say, it’s best if it’s set on silent mode.

Virtual connections are not welcome at table. One exception to that may be if you’ve decided to meet over lunch or dinner to plan a trip, for example, and need to browse together, in which case all parties are engaged in the same way. The main issue really lies in making sure that your companions are not left having to stare at others or to the ceiling.

So what do you do when you need to take the call? If it’s going to be a long one, avoid disturbing other patrons by excusing yourself from the table and taking the call elsewhere. This can be particularly awkward when you are accompanied by only one person. Try and keep the call as brief as possible – the same time you would need to quickly visit the rest room.

Group photos, food photos and selfies have become the norm. Just remember that before posting photos on social media platforms you need to ask permission before uploading. Not everybody is keen to have their photo uploaded while they’re eating and not everybody is happy with telling the world where they were, who they were with and what they ate. Always respect others’ right to privacy.

During formal dinners, banquets and where speeches are being delivered, the mobile should never be placed on the table.

Although it may be called social media, remember that, ultimately, it is actually alienating you from the real world around you!

Ramona Galea

Ramona is an International Etiquette Coach and an avid believer of the importance these soft skills have nowadays. This passion kicked off from a young age when she questioned why elbows couldn’t stay on the table and her inquisitiveness continued and she founded First Class Etiquette, to address the developing need for people’s understanding of the importance of international business and social etiquette. It really is not just about elbows but confidence, attitude, assertiveness and knowing the how, the when and the why we do things. Amongst her hectic schedule, her two biggest indulgences are travelling with her family and reading with an Aperol Spritz in quiet surroundings - just being away from it all to de-stress.

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