smartphone-abuseLast week I emceed a conference in Washington DC. From my vantage point on the stage, I watched as audience members shifted their attention from the speakers (who were outstanding) to their smartphones. Then, during breaks, attendees rushed to return phone calls and spend more time emailing or texting instead of talking and connecting.

Really? Are we so addicted that we can’t respectfully listen to a speaker without “checking in.” And what happened to good old-fashioned conversation and face-to-face networking?

The reason I’m bringing this up is because July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Yes, I realize this is being posted on the last day of July, but I think it’s important to stop for a minute and think about the way in which we use mobile devices and how they can actually have a negative impact on ourselves and our business.

When to just say “no!”

Mobile technology helps small businesses enhance their productivity and profitability. No arguments there. But that’s no excuse for the types of bad behavior most of us are guilty of exhibiting from time to time.

How many times have you checked your email during a meeting? Sent a text during a seminar? Played Angry Birds while in a training seminar? Taken a call while at lunch with a friend, co-worker or client? Not only is such behavior discourteous, it could affect your company’s bottom line.

Instead of creating a standard list of do’s and don’ts, I decided to share some thoughts from my social media friends when I asked them the following question…

What’s your biggest cell phone pet peeve?

“Don’t even get me started!”

“What happened to social interaction? I find it rude when you’re out with people and they’re texting and playing on their phones.”

“I miss the old phone booths that allowed for private conversations no one else had to hear!”

“People who cannot get off the phone to give their barista their coffee order. It is completely disrespectful. No phone call is that important. Show some courtesy and end your phone call.”

Bad cell phone etiquette can be bad for business

One of the funniest— if you can call it that—yet most poignant comments came from a LinkedIn Connection.

“My favorite cell phone story is from a former client. Many years ago during lunch at a very nice restaurant, he took a call in the middle of our conversation, which is bad enough, but the real kicker was when he became angry with the caller and began shouting obscenities so loudly the waiter came over and asked him to go outside. I was both embarrassed and upset that he had so little courtesy or respect for not only me, but his fellow diners. I finished my assignment and did not pursue any further business dealings with him. No client is worth that level of inconsiderate behavior.”

Smartphone abuse really isn’t too smart

The next time you’re in a meeting, at an event, dining out with friends, co-workers, or clients think about your smartphone behavior and how it’s perceived by others. Is your bad smartphone behavior going to cost you a relationship or future business? That’s not too smart now is it?

Bottom line: Don’t be a smartphone abuser. Be a smart user!

What’s the worst cell phone abuse you’ve experienced? Tell us in the comments below!