Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Roe on April 18, 2016, 08:30:24 AM

Title: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Roe on April 18, 2016, 08:30:24 AM
My awesomely, amazing cousin (who I love very much) moved to our new city and plans to stay with us for a few months while she gets acclimated to the area. It seems she's addicted to FB and social media. 

When we are having a simple dinner conversation, she'll be scrolling through her phone and add a few "ah ha's" to the overall conversation. She'll also click on a video and share it with us, whether we want to view it or not. 

Normally, it doesn't irritate me so much as when we are having dinner.  My family and I enjoy nice family conversations during dinner without our phones at the table. 

My cousin is an adult and I hesitate in admonishing or setting rules for adults, however, her phone is really disrupting the normal flow of our family dinner conversations.

Advice on how to address this? 
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Another Sarah on April 18, 2016, 08:53:43 AM
I think if you made a rule that "cousin can't look at her phone during dinner" that would be rude, but I don't think, that setting rules for adults is the same as setting house rules, particularly if someone is staying with you.

If you were to say "it's a house rule that no-one has their phone with them during dinner," I think that's perfectly ok. It's basically the same as saying "It's a house rule that we don't wear shoes inside" - i.e. something that is not generally considered rude to not have as a rule in your own home, but as a visitor, a heads up is appropriate and a guest should abide by it.

I guess it all depends on what you and your family do. If it is a house rule that there's no phones at the table, there's nothing wrong with telling your cousin so. If, however, you have your phones but just don't tend to look at them as often, I don't think you can tell your cousin her usage is too much because its higher than yours.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: ladyknight1 on April 18, 2016, 08:58:34 AM
"At my house, no phones or other devices are allowed during family meal time."

It doesn't matter that she is an adult, she is staying with you.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Kaypeep on April 18, 2016, 09:00:37 AM
Agreed that you should just tell her it's a house rule, no phones at the table.  You can express regret that you were remiss in stating it sooner, but you need to say so now because the phone usage at the table has gone beyond answering a call or checking for an urgent message and instead is a constant presence and distraction which is exactly the reason your family doesn't use them at the table during meals. 
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Roe on April 18, 2016, 09:07:54 AM
That's the thing, I should've stated this as a "rule" as soon as she arrived but it's been 2 months now so it would seem odd to all of a sudden have a rule she didn't know about. 

I kept hoping she'd take the hint or at the minimum, see how we "do" things and follow our lead. When she shows us a video, we redirect or just see a few seconds and continue on with our conversation.  When she talks about what people are posting on FB, we barely acknowledge. It's only when she fully engages in our conversation that we give her our undivided attention.

Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 18, 2016, 09:14:50 AM
I think I'd just go with "Cousin, I've hesitated to bring this up but you've probably noticed that none of us bring a phone to the dinner table. It's a house rule I should have mentioned when you arrived. Would you mind leaving the phone elsewhere during dinner?"
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Mustard on April 18, 2016, 09:21:54 AM
If your family has never brought phones to the table before, you've never had a house rule about doing so.  Perhaps you could tell your cousin that not bringing phones to the table is a new rule, as dropping hints/following your example wasn't working.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: ladyknight1 on April 18, 2016, 09:26:28 AM
I didn't know my youngest sister was staying at your house! She doesn't get hints. Ever. She doesn't pick up cues. When you tell her something she didn't pick up, she gives a PA response. It's a joy.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: EllenS on April 18, 2016, 09:31:20 AM
I think I'd just go with "Cousin, I've hesitated to bring this up but you've probably noticed that none of us bring a phone to the dinner table. It's a house rule I should have mentioned when you arrived. Would you mind leaving the phone elsewhere during dinner?"

There's no need to get legalistic about whether it was or has been or is now a "rule."

It's not what you do at dinner. I'd go with Hmm's approach and just phrase it as ... "you've probably noticed none of us bring a phone to the dinner table. I didn't think to mention it when you arrived, but it's become kind of intrusive. Would you mind..." etc.

When someone is a guest for a day or two, you can just overlook things. When you're living together for months at a time, you have to talk about things.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: SamiHami on April 18, 2016, 10:35:38 AM
I don't see why you couldn't just be honest with her.

"Cousin, would you mind not bringing your phone to the dinner table? We have been finding it distracting. Thanks!"
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Surianne on April 18, 2016, 12:23:10 PM
I don't see why you couldn't just be honest with her.

"Cousin, would you mind not bringing your phone to the dinner table? We have been finding it distracting. Thanks!"

I agree, nice and clear, plus I think I'd respond much better to someone asking me than setting it up as a "rule".
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: lmyrs on April 18, 2016, 12:57:19 PM
I don't see why you couldn't just be honest with her.

"Cousin, would you mind not bringing your phone to the dinner table? We have been finding it distracting. Thanks!"

Cousin is an adult, not a child. This is the only response I've seen so far that acknowledges that.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: flyersandunicorns on April 18, 2016, 01:00:10 PM
It's been 2 months, so you could justify that the first few weeks, you were giving your cousin some time to adjust and see how you typically conduct family dinners, which is without phones so you can have conversations. She may be uncomfortable and fidgeting because that's not the typical set up for how she grew up, we didn't have sit down dinners at my house so when I was invited for them at a friend's house, it was a culture shock. Granted, I would never imagine not noticing the social cues that they weren't on their phones and were chit chatting instead.

I'd mention it to her away from the table, to avoid public embarrassment. "Would you please stop using your phone during meal times? It's our time to catch up during the day and  it's distracting to the rest of us."

As someone who is addicted to social media and my cell phone is my direct life line to my over worked, career building partner, even I can put down the phone and enjoy a dinner with friends or family. Sometimes you just need a little poke and a nudge in the right direction.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Cali.in.UK on April 18, 2016, 01:28:14 PM
I think I'd just go with "Cousin, I've hesitated to bring this up but you've probably noticed that none of us bring a phone to the dinner table. It's a house rule I should have mentioned when you arrived. Would you mind leaving the phone elsewhere during dinner?"

This is good. I think it is good to take some of the blame so that she doesn't feel attacked. I think if I were staying with someone and a few days into my stay, the host mentioned that something I was doing was being noticed in a bad way I might feel awkward so it is helpful to say the bolded.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Roe on April 18, 2016, 01:55:32 PM
I like the straightforward approach as well.  I'm still worried that she might feel scolded, no matter how casual or straightforward I say it.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: flyersandunicorns on April 18, 2016, 02:40:50 PM
I like the straightforward approach as well.  I'm still worried that she might feel scolded, no matter how casual or straightforward I say it.

You can't worry about how she may feel, her feelings are solely up to her in the long run. If we tip toe around everyone's possible hurt feelings, to the point we don't ever say anything, nothing gets fixed. That can really take a toll on your relationship in the long run.

She knows you love her, it's really not that big of deal in the scheme of things and she probably just doesn't realize what a distraction she's being. It's also because you'd like her to feel more part of the family and group atmosphere, not because you want to boss her around or nitpick at her.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Aquamarine on April 18, 2016, 04:31:09 PM
Simply tell her you have decided on a new rule in your home that there will be no phones at the table.  Just tell her that, no discussion, no negotiation, if she's unhappy about it thats just too bad, its your home and you get to set the rules and this is a very reasonable rule.  If she refuses or pitches a fit tell her perhaps a hotel might meet her needs better.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Aquamarine on April 18, 2016, 04:33:48 PM
That's the thing, I should've stated this as a "rule" as soon as she arrived but it's been 2 months now so it would seem odd to all of a sudden have a rule she didn't know about. 

I kept hoping she'd take the hint or at the minimum, see how we "do" things and follow our lead. When she shows us a video, we redirect or just see a few seconds and continue on with our conversation.  When she talks about what people are posting on FB, we barely acknowledge. It's only when she fully engages in our conversation that we give her our undivided attention.

It's not odd at all, it's your home and you get to make a new rule every hour for your home if you choose.  Staying in your home does not require a full disclosure up front like renting an apartment would.  Maybe she will think it's odd and that's ok.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Lady Snowdon on April 18, 2016, 06:47:24 PM
I think the straightforward approach is the way to go as well for this.  Just as "please leave your phone on the charger/in your purse/etc during dinner.  It's very distracting when we're trying to have a conversation" should work, I'd think.

Also, she's been living with you for two months "while she acclimates".  Is your area one where cell phones/tablets aren't used as much?  If so, I'd also point it out as a part of the culture there - cell phone/tablet use isn't as prevalent, or whatever. 
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: JadeAngel on April 18, 2016, 11:19:22 PM
I rather like this idea from Ikea, when the mobile phones are put away people actually talk to one another!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_smAm-1jTRg

But at the table I prefer to keep my phone tucked away in my purse so that it's out of sight out of mind, having it on the table makes it almost irresistible to pick it up and check your messages or social media or a hundred other things.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Teenyweeny on April 19, 2016, 04:29:28 AM
I read something recently that I really liked, and I now pass it on to you:

The least manipulative way to get someone to do something is to just ask them.
Anything else is a form of manipulation.

May it change your life as it has changed mine. :)
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: caz on April 19, 2016, 04:45:03 AM
I read something recently that I really liked, and I now pass it on to you:

The least manipulative way to get someone to do something is to just ask them.
Anything else is a form of manipulation.

May it change your life as it has changed mine. :)

I like it :)
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: greencat on April 19, 2016, 04:45:55 AM
What about,
"Cousin, would you please put your phone away during dinner?  We'd really like to talk to you!"
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: caz on April 19, 2016, 04:55:58 AM
I am the person who always has my phone when in the lounge room if the TV is on. One of my family members took offence to that. As far as I was concerned, they had control of the remote, so if I wasn't interested in what was on, I was free to look at what I liked. After a week or so, I heard lots of passive aggressive comments like "doesn't that hurt your eyes?" which honestly just annoyed me.

I'm not saying that's you, Roe! Watching TV is a very different thing from eating dinner - but as the phone addict in this situation, I'd much prefer a clear request than pussy footing around it. If your cousin is interrupting conversations because she's not paying attention, then you can say it too! It doesn't need to be a big discussion - if she shows you videos and someone else is talking, then maybe a "Cousin - you just interrupted Bob - can you hold on a second?" and if you want, you can tell her she has a habit of checking out during dinner and can she keep that half hour phone-free?

My two cents :)
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: YummyMummy66 on April 19, 2016, 07:47:24 AM
Maybe it is just me, but why can't you just tell her to put her phone away or to not bring her phone to the table?   

We have this rule in our home and all abide by it.  At any age and we all have phones.  Well, except the 8 year old granddaughter.  But, from 17 to 70, we have a phone.  But, no one minds that we do not have phones when we eat dinner. 

This is more than just a "guest", this is a family member and one who has been staying with you for at least two months and not sure how much longer, so I think you can request that the no phone rule at the dinner table applies to everyone.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: cb140 on April 20, 2016, 10:40:38 AM
Agreed that you should just tell her it's a house rule, no phones at the table.  You can express regret that you were remiss in stating it sooner, but you need to say so now because the phone usage at the table has gone beyond answering a call or checking for an urgent message and instead is a constant presence and distraction which is exactly the reason your family doesn't use them at the table during meals.

I think this is a case where JADE-ing isn't a good idea. To me (sorry to pick on you, Kaypeep) the above crosses the line into unacceptably telling another adult what to do. I have better manners (I hope) than to use a phone excessively at the table, but whereas I would be understanding and fine about it if someone said: "House rule - no phones at the table!", I would be irritated at the above, which sounds more like a lecture.

My first suggestion was going to be to do exactly what you've already done - not show any interest in her phone, and bean dip or redirect if she tries to show you stuff. But that obvioulsy isn't working, so I think the next stage is a cheery "let's leave our phones on the side during dinner!"

Or turn the wifi off?  ;)
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Celany on April 20, 2016, 01:34:42 PM
I've had a similar situation before and the way I handed it was totally off the cuff (and genuine). I kinda made a squinty face and said "oh, why don't we look at social media stuff later? I'd really like to focus on just talking directly to YOU and the food during dinner. Let's show each other media stuff later when we're on the couch." The person involved agreed and put their iPad away and kept it away during future dinners.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: gellchom on April 20, 2016, 04:44:02 PM
I read something recently that I really liked, and I now pass it on to you:

The least manipulative way to get someone to do something is to just ask them.
Anything else is a form of manipulation.

May it change your life as it has changed mine. :)

I like it :)


Oh, this.  A thousand times this.

We've had the "askers and hinters" discussion many times here on ehell.  And I still agree that it's just a matter of communication style.  But it can be a real problem when it's a disconnect. 

Like this encounter the other day.  My wonderful friend next door, MayMay, is a "hinter" and I am an "asker" -- we've laughed over it several times.  She invited us and my MIL for dinner.  Very casual, we have each other over all the time.  It was not a big deal to change or cancel the plans.  That afternoon, after 5, she called and said she was way on the other side of town dropping off her daughter's friend and hadn't even been to the market yet and her husband was tired; would it be awful if we just had pizzas, even though it was Friday night?  (We're all Jewish, so that's our big, nice meal of the week, but it was no big deal.)  "Sure, no problem!  Want me to make a salad?" I answered, and she said that'd be good.  Then it hit me -- I'd better check my MayMay/English-- English/MayMay Dictionary.  Sure enough, what she'd said translated to "I need to cancel tonight."  So I texted her to double check, and, yep, she answered that it really would be better just to cancel.  It was all fine and no problem, but it made me remember these discussions we've had here.

The asker doesn't hear a hint, she hears obstacles, and thinks, "Oh, we have obstacles to solve; how about this plan?"  The hinter thinks, "Why can't she just take the hint instead of being so pushy?"  The asker thinks "If you want something, say what you mean, don't make me guess."  The hinter thinks, "I feel bad saying no; it's rude."  The asker thinks, "Don't you respect me enough to know I can take no for an answer?"  And so on.

Obviously, I'm not unbiased, but truthfully I think that the direct method is not only clearer, it's also more honest, and, importantly, it takes responsibility instead of manipulating the other person into being the one to make the choice you really want to make.  If it's based on feeling like it's not okay to ask directly, then isn't it something you'd do when you feel like it's too much to ask, but you can absolve yourself of that if you can manipulate the other person into offering it?  I just hate being manipulated and have to struggle not to be mulish and refuse to do something that I don't even mind doing just because the other person is trying to manipulate me rather than just ask me.  (Not MayMay; she's a complete doll.)

That came home to me recently with a habit my MIL has that drives me straight up the wall, admittedly out of proportion.  I'm working on it.   :)  Not only will she not just say what she wants, she tries to "blame" (that's too strong a word, but you get my point) others.  The other night, for example, we were going to a restaurant.  It was a gorgeous evening and the restaurant had outdoor seating, so I asked her if she'd like to sit outside.  "Sure, that'll be fine," she answered, but then as I started to push her wheelchair to an outdoor table, she said, "But won't it be harder for you?"  I'm not even sure what she was pretending to be thinking about, but it was quite obvious (especially because she does this all the time) that she wanted to sit inside but not only didn't she want to just own that, she wanted it to be my issue.  Or if she wants to leave an activity, she will say something like "Isn't Gellchom [or anyone else but herself] getting tired?"  So if the activity ends early or whatever, it's their fault, not hers.  That's taking it all even a step further.

It's perfectly fine to say what you want!  Just take ownership of it.  Don't try to manipulate others into doing things without your asking them just so you don't have to feel bad about it, and definitely don't try to pretend you're doing it for someone else's sake.

Sorry for the rant!

In this case, I think several posters have given excellent "scripts" for simply asking.  Leave the word "rule" out of it -- sounds too bossy/parental and makes you right and her wrong, when no one needs to be wrong.  I have good results with framing things as asking for their help; people like to be helpful.  It's so easy just to ask clearly, directly, and nicely.  The shortest distance is a straight line; you can be direct without being abrupt.  So maybe something like, "Listen Cousin, I need to ask for your help with something.  I'm sorry I didn't mention it before, and I don't want to embarrass you, but some time ago we realized that having cell phones at the table really changed the dynamic at dinner time, so we leave them in the other room.  Now that you're a member of the household, would you please do that, too?  We want your company!  Thanks so much for understanding.  Come help me with the bean dip."

I bet you anything it will work just fine.  She will stop bringing the phone, she won't be offended, and you won't be frustrated by her not picking up on hints she isn't even hearing.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: crazycatlady331 on April 20, 2016, 08:31:54 PM
If you were at a restaurant, I'd suggest playing 'phone roulette."  If you haven't heard of it, everyone at the table puts their phones face down in one general area or a pile.  First person to touch their phone pays the bill. 
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Roe on April 20, 2016, 09:04:53 PM
If you were at a restaurant, I'd suggest playing 'phone roulette."  If you haven't heard of it, everyone at the table puts their phones face down in one general area or a pile.  First person to touch their phone pays the bill.

Ha! Love it!
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: MariaE on April 20, 2016, 11:52:37 PM
If you were at a restaurant, I'd suggest playing 'phone roulette."  If you haven't heard of it, everyone at the table puts their phones face down in one general area or a pile.  First person to touch their phone pays the bill.

I had somebody suggest that to me once, and it really annoyed me (this was somebody I hadn't seen in ages, so assuming I couldn't leave the phone alone for the duration of a meal was both wrong and really presumptious). So no, I wouldn't suggest going that route.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: sammycat on April 21, 2016, 12:05:46 AM
If you were at a restaurant, I'd suggest playing 'phone roulette."  If you haven't heard of it, everyone at the table puts their phones face down in one general area or a pile.  First person to touch their phone pays the bill.

I had somebody suggest that to me once, and it really annoyed me (this was somebody I hadn't seen in ages, so assuming I couldn't leave the phone alone for the duration of a meal was both wrong and really presumptious). So no, I wouldn't suggest going that route.

I wouldn't go that route either. I'd then spend the entire meal wondering if I should've ordered something cheaper, should I order dessert or not, just in case someone decided to follow through with it and decide, or be forced, to pay for everyone (including me).  Under usual circumstances I fully expect to pay for my own meal to the last cent, not have someone else pick up the bill. Besides, most places I go to have a pay-as-you-order at the counter set up, so it wouldn't be a feasible idea anyway.

As for Cousin, I agree with PP who say to just be direct about it, and act as though Cousin is a rational human being who will of course comply with such a reasonable and polite request.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: MommyPenguin on April 21, 2016, 07:02:22 AM
If you were at a restaurant, I'd suggest playing 'phone roulette."  If you haven't heard of it, everyone at the table puts their phones face down in one general area or a pile.  First person to touch their phone pays the bill.

I had somebody suggest that to me once, and it really annoyed me (this was somebody I hadn't seen in ages, so assuming I couldn't leave the phone alone for the duration of a meal was both wrong and really presumptious). So no, I wouldn't suggest going that route.

Some Chick-fil-As are issuing a phone challenge where you put your phone in a box in the middle of the table during the meal.  If you make it the whole meal without taking it out, they'll give you a free ice cream cone.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: daen on April 21, 2016, 07:04:42 AM

<snip>

As for Cousin, I agree with PP who say to just be direct about it, and act as though Cousin is a rational human being who will of course comply with such a reasonable and polite request.

I've had good results with that in a work situation. If my starting attitude is "This is a perfectly reasonable and polite requirement," the response is much more positive than if I start in apologetic mode.  It works in reverse, too - if there's something not right that I need to address, I start with the assumption that the person is rational, reasonable, and polite. The response is then usually "oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize - let me fix that."
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Mustard on April 21, 2016, 12:57:28 PM
We were once at a Christmas 'do' where the young woman opposite us had put two phones down on the table.  My husband asked why she had two phones.  She looked at him pityingly and said well of course she couldn't bring all of them could she?  Turns out she had four mobiles because each had a different tariff  so she was getting the best use of her money.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: DanaJ on April 21, 2016, 02:12:31 PM
If you were at a restaurant, I'd suggest playing 'phone roulette."  If you haven't heard of it, everyone at the table puts their phones face down in one general area or a pile.  First person to touch their phone pays the bill.

I had somebody suggest that to me once, and it really annoyed me (this was somebody I hadn't seen in ages, so assuming I couldn't leave the phone alone for the duration of a meal was both wrong and really presumptious). So no, I wouldn't suggest going that route.

POD. That would rub me the wrong way too, and I don't even have a phone (actually, I guess the game would work out quite well for me). In any case, the "phone roulette" game assumes you are all like ill-mannered children to begin with and that's never a good way to start a social event.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: crazycatlady331 on April 21, 2016, 07:16:30 PM
The only person I've done the phone roulette thing with IMO needed it.  When I'd go to a restaurant with her, the iPhone was more important than anyone she was having dinner with (it wasn't things like sending a work email or checking in on an elderly relative, it was social media and Candy Crush).  It got to the point where I wondered why I was even bothering to waste my time and money to have a restaurant meal with someone who didn't pay attention to me (this was a 1 on 1 meal, not a group setting).

And then when the food came, nobody could eat until the food was photographed and put on social media.  Sometimes it was getting cold for that reason. 

I've since given this person the cut direct and this is one of the 10,000 reasons.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Allyson on April 22, 2016, 12:11:51 AM
I think phone roulette is fine if everybody involved uses their phones a lot and has expressed a desire to do it less. But if it's being suggested by somebody who doesn't use their phone a lot, to somebody who does, it just seems passive aggressive.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: MrTango on April 22, 2016, 07:46:47 AM
I think phone roulette is fine if everybody involved uses their phones a lot and has expressed a desire to do it less. But if it's being suggested by somebody who doesn't use their phone a lot, to somebody who does, it just seems passive aggressive.

This.

The way I see it, if it's not rude for my wife to pull out her knitting during a conversation, then it's not rude for me to pull out my phone and play a round of 2048 or Mancala while holding a conversation.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Teenyweeny on April 22, 2016, 08:28:35 AM
I think phone roulette is fine if everybody involved uses their phones a lot and has expressed a desire to do it less. But if it's being suggested by somebody who doesn't use their phone a lot, to somebody who does, it just seems passive aggressive.

This.

The way I see it, if it's not rude for my wife to pull out her knitting during a conversation, then it's not rude for me to pull out my phone and play a round of 2048 or Mancala while holding a conversation.

I like 2048, but there's no way I'd not find it off-putting if someone was playing that while talking to me. You have to look at your screen to play. I suppose if you were taking a long time between turns, that's ok, but only for the most casual of settings.

FWIW, I feel the same about knitting, unless it's very plain and the person can do it while talking, without looking down. (And even then, we'd better be in a v casual situation.)

Busying yourself with another activity during social time is just rude (unless that activity is the focus of the gathering). How can it send any other message than "I don't want to give you my full attention"?  If the people in question live together (or there's an extended house visit going on), then drifting in and out of conversation while doing your own activity is a perfectly normal thing to do in a shared space. Otherwise, it's just disrespectful.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: knitwicca on April 22, 2016, 09:10:03 AM

I like 2048, but there's no way I'd not find it off-putting if someone was playing that while talking to me. You have to look at your screen to play. I suppose if you were taking a long time between turns, that's ok, but only for the most casual of settings.

FWIW, I feel the same about knitting, unless it's very plain and the person can do it while talking, without looking down. (And even then, we'd better be in a v casual situation.)

Busying yourself with another activity during social time is just rude (unless that activity is the focus of the gathering). How can it send any other message than "I don't want to give you my full attention"?  If the people in question live together (or there's an extended house visit going on), then drifting in and out of conversation while doing your own activity is a perfectly normal thing to do in a shared space. Otherwise, it's just disrespectful.

I admit I knit constantly when I am not at work...including movie theaters. I also can knit simple patterns without looking at the work. I look the person I am with in the eye.
It never occurred to me that some people might find that rude.  It is simply a way to keep my hands busy while I give attention to the other person. 

About the cell phones at the dinner table...I dated a guy for nearly 2 years who could not eat a meal unless he had his phone out and was reading the news, looking at aircraft videos, etc.  He was absolutely non-communicative during meals (except via his cell).  Unless we were having dinner with his friends.  I felt dismissed and have no idea why I put up with it for so long.

The guy I am seeing now took me out to dinner one evening and the previous bf was sitting at the bar with a lady. Ex-bf had his phone propped against the edge of his plate (I had to look!) while responding to his date with the same half-attention he had always given me during meals.  For the record, we are not teens or twenty-somethings but past 50 years old.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Aquamarine on April 22, 2016, 09:34:44 AM
What about,
"Cousin, would you please put your phone away during dinner?  We'd really like to talk to you!"

To me that means "we'd really like to talk to you about something this one time", it doesn't address the fact that the host does not want phones at the dinner table ever again.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Chez Miriam on April 22, 2016, 09:50:51 AM
If you were at a restaurant, I'd suggest playing 'phone roulette."  If you haven't heard of it, everyone at the table puts their phones face down in one general area or a pile.  First person to touch their phone pays the bill.

I had somebody suggest that to me once, and it really annoyed me (this was somebody I hadn't seen in ages, so assuming I couldn't leave the phone alone for the duration of a meal was both wrong and really presumptious). So no, I wouldn't suggest going that route.

I would never do that.  I paid too much for that phone to risk the chance of forgetting it, or worse, having something spilled on it!  So no, my phone will be safely buried in my purse.  I'm honestly not important enough to have the phone permanently attached to my hand anyway.

Not commenting on your importance, LadyJaneinMD, but anyone seriously important will not have a phone permanently attached to their hand, either.  I'm sure if Mr Obama, or HH the Dalai Lama* needs contacting urgently, one of their aides will tap them on the shoulder!  ;)

Shortly after dinosaurs died out, I went on a BT [previously the monopoly telephone provider in the UK] switchboard programming course and one of the instructors told how he'd deflected a BigCheese demanding the phone with the most buttons [he was the most important person; he should have the biggest phone]... 

He pointed out that the girl who answered the switchboard had a huge phone with masses of buttons, group secretaries had big phones with lots of buttons, PAs had small phones with a few extra buttons [compared to a home phone], and really seriously important people have a phone with no buttons [they just pick it up, and the person the other end does the tedious stuff like dialling, asking for MrX, waiting to connect, fobbing off unwanted callers, etc.].

It worked for me - I pointed out the more bosses you had, the more buttons you needed to poor PAs of demanding bosses - but I should have bought in a stock of no-button phones!  ;)


* Or the world's [possibly/currently] most famous 90-year-old lady.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Teenyweeny on April 22, 2016, 10:16:23 AM

I like 2048, but there's no way I'd not find it off-putting if someone was playing that while talking to me. You have to look at your screen to play. I suppose if you were taking a long time between turns, that's ok, but only for the most casual of settings.

FWIW, I feel the same about knitting, unless it's very plain and the person can do it while talking, without looking down. (And even then, we'd better be in a v casual situation.)

Busying yourself with another activity during social time is just rude (unless that activity is the focus of the gathering). How can it send any other message than "I don't want to give you my full attention"?  If the people in question live together (or there's an extended house visit going on), then drifting in and out of conversation while doing your own activity is a perfectly normal thing to do in a shared space. Otherwise, it's just disrespectful.

I admit I knit constantly when I am not at work...including movie theaters. I also can knit simple patterns without looking at the work. I look the person I am with in the eye.
It never occurred to me that some people might find that rude.  It is simply a way to keep my hands busy while I give attention to the other person. 

I admit I know v little about knitting, but aren't you counting stitches? Or something? If it is literally just a movement of your hands, then OK (although i still think there's a time and a place, I'd be annoyed if I was trying to watch a film and the person next to me was going clickclickclick, and it's not appropriate for more formal settings), but I assume you have to devote at least some brain space to keeping track of where you are and that just feels off to me.

Yes, I know I could be talking to someone and they're secretly planning their wedding in their head, but I don't KNOW that, you know? Whereas someone knitting is literally waving a flag that that says "I'm also thinking about something else!"
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: menley on April 22, 2016, 10:53:52 AM
Yes, I find the clacking of knitting needles to be quite distracting and I'd have a hard time having a conversation with people who were knitting while talking to me. I'd probably trail off several times while trying to regain my train of thought, and if it happened repeatedly, id just stop meeting up with the person. If one has to do something else to keep from being bored in my company, I'd rather spend time with people who do not feel that way.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: EllenS on April 22, 2016, 11:19:59 AM

I like 2048, but there's no way I'd not find it off-putting if someone was playing that while talking to me. You have to look at your screen to play. I suppose if you were taking a long time between turns, that's ok, but only for the most casual of settings.

FWIW, I feel the same about knitting, unless it's very plain and the person can do it while talking, without looking down. (And even then, we'd better be in a v casual situation.)

Busying yourself with another activity during social time is just rude (unless that activity is the focus of the gathering). How can it send any other message than "I don't want to give you my full attention"?  If the people in question live together (or there's an extended house visit going on), then drifting in and out of conversation while doing your own activity is a perfectly normal thing to do in a shared space. Otherwise, it's just disrespectful.

I admit I knit constantly when I am not at work...including movie theaters. I also can knit simple patterns without looking at the work. I look the person I am with in the eye.
It never occurred to me that some people might find that rude.  It is simply a way to keep my hands busy while I give attention to the other person. 

I admit I know v little about knitting, but aren't you counting stitches? Or something? If it is literally just a movement of your hands, then OK (although i still think there's a time and a place, I'd be annoyed if I was trying to watch a film and the person next to me was going clickclickclick, and it's not appropriate for more formal settings), but I assume you have to devote at least some brain space to keeping track of where you are and that just feels off to me.

Yes, I know I could be talking to someone and they're secretly planning their wedding in their head, but I don't KNOW that, you know? Whereas someone knitting is literally waving a flag that that says "I'm also thinking about something else!"

I don't usually knit in 1-on-1 convos, (and of course not while eating!) But I often do in group situations. It's like doodling - I actually hear & retain & respond better when my hands are occupied. If I don't have an unobtrusive functional activity, I fidget badly and have trouble sitting still. It's one of the reasons I prefer to host - there's always a plausible reason for a hostess to get up and tend to something.

Electronics, though suck me in and take me right out of the group.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Teenyweeny on April 22, 2016, 11:31:17 AM

I like 2048, but there's no way I'd not find it off-putting if someone was playing that while talking to me. You have to look at your screen to play. I suppose if you were taking a long time between turns, that's ok, but only for the most casual of settings.

FWIW, I feel the same about knitting, unless it's very plain and the person can do it while talking, without looking down. (And even then, we'd better be in a v casual situation.)

Busying yourself with another activity during social time is just rude (unless that activity is the focus of the gathering). How can it send any other message than "I don't want to give you my full attention"?  If the people in question live together (or there's an extended house visit going on), then drifting in and out of conversation while doing your own activity is a perfectly normal thing to do in a shared space. Otherwise, it's just disrespectful.

I admit I knit constantly when I am not at work...including movie theaters. I also can knit simple patterns without looking at the work. I look the person I am with in the eye.
It never occurred to me that some people might find that rude.  It is simply a way to keep my hands busy while I give attention to the other person. 

I admit I know v little about knitting, but aren't you counting stitches? Or something? If it is literally just a movement of your hands, then OK (although i still think there's a time and a place, I'd be annoyed if I was trying to watch a film and the person next to me was going clickclickclick, and it's not appropriate for more formal settings), but I assume you have to devote at least some brain space to keeping track of where you are and that just feels off to me.

Yes, I know I could be talking to someone and they're secretly planning their wedding in their head, but I don't KNOW that, you know? Whereas someone knitting is literally waving a flag that that says "I'm also thinking about something else!"

I don't usually knit in 1-on-1 convos, (and of course not while eating!) But I often do in group situations. It's like doodling - I actually hear & retain & respond better when my hands are occupied. If I don't have an unobtrusive functional activity, I fidget badly and have trouble sitting still. It's one of the reasons I prefer to host - there's always a plausible reason for a hostess to get up and tend to something.

Electronics, though suck me in and take me right out of the group.

So I've thought about this some more, and I think my rule of thumb is "Would I be able to step away to take a phone call (without apologising)?"

So if it's somewhere where I couldn't take a call in that room, then other activities aren't appropriate either. If my phone rang, and it was somewhere that I could answer, and i wouldn't have to apologise for stepping away, then other activities are ok. If I'd have to excuse myself, then i'm too much of an integral part of the group to not give it my full attention.

Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Chez Miriam on April 22, 2016, 11:35:23 AM

I like 2048, but there's no way I'd not find it off-putting if someone was playing that while talking to me. You have to look at your screen to play. I suppose if you were taking a long time between turns, that's ok, but only for the most casual of settings.

FWIW, I feel the same about knitting, unless it's very plain and the person can do it while talking, without looking down. (And even then, we'd better be in a v casual situation.)

Busying yourself with another activity during social time is just rude (unless that activity is the focus of the gathering). How can it send any other message than "I don't want to give you my full attention"?  If the people in question live together (or there's an extended house visit going on), then drifting in and out of conversation while doing your own activity is a perfectly normal thing to do in a shared space. Otherwise, it's just disrespectful.

I admit I knit constantly when I am not at work...including movie theaters. I also can knit simple patterns without looking at the work. I look the person I am with in the eye.
It never occurred to me that some people might find that rude.  It is simply a way to keep my hands busy while I give attention to the other person. 

I admit I know v little about knitting, but aren't you counting stitches? Or something? If it is literally just a movement of your hands, then OK (although i still think there's a time and a place, I'd be annoyed if I was trying to watch a film and the person next to me was going clickclickclick, and it's not appropriate for more formal settings), but I assume you have to devote at least some brain space to keeping track of where you are and that just feels off to me.

Yes, I know I could be talking to someone and they're secretly planning their wedding in their head, but I don't KNOW that, you know? Whereas someone knitting is literally waving a flag that that says "I'm also thinking about something else!"

I don't usually knit in 1-on-1 convos, (and of course not while eating!) But I often do in group situations. It's like doodling - I actually hear & retain & respond better when my hands are occupied. If I don't have an unobtrusive functional activity, I fidget badly and have trouble sitting still. It's one of the reasons I prefer to host - there's always a plausible reason for a hostess to get up and tend to something.

Electronics, though suck me in and take me right out of the group.

I'd rather someone doodle that knit in a situation where I need to hear things.  I have tinnitus [and the hearing aids really amplify any clacking sounds] and Central Auditory Porcessing Disorder, so really struggle with background noise.  If a place is very quiet, I have no problem hearing, but I gave up going to the cinema when snacks went from ice cream/wine gums in the intermission to 'everyone, let's tuck into that bucket of popcorn, and get out your mobiles for a nice chat'!

I realised I didn't care enough to see films on their release; I would rather be able to follow the plot/dialogue at a later date [and so probably in my own home].

One-on-one: if I can hear you over the clicking, that would be fine.  Otherwise it would be apologies, I'm off, time.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: mandycorn on April 22, 2016, 11:42:28 AM
Back to the initial topic (and actually applicable for people who would be bothered by the knitting too), I would just tell the person that I didn't realize it would be a problem at first, but I'm finding their phone use/knitting very distracting, and could they please not do it any more during meals with me.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: MrTango on April 22, 2016, 03:09:05 PM
Back to the initial topic (and actually applicable for people who would be bothered by the knitting too), I would just tell the person that I didn't realize it would be a problem at first, but I'm finding their phone use/knitting very distracting, and could they please not do it any more during meals with me.

Asking seems reasonable to me, but only if you accept that they may choose to comply with your request in a way you didn't intend:  If someone asked me to not do *task* while doing *activity with them*, I may choose to just drop *activity with them* rather than dropping *task*
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: gellchom on April 22, 2016, 04:03:26 PM
I don't think it looks nice to put your phone on the table when you are eating with people.  I have a dentist friend who always does it, and he says he has to be cause he is a medical professional and a patient might have an emergency.  Fine (although before we all had cell phones I never saw him give his name to a restaurant host in case he got a call), but you can still keep it in your pocket - even leave the ringer on if you want.  Putting it out on the table makes me feel like he is hoping someone more interesting will call.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: MariaE on April 23, 2016, 12:23:57 AM
Back to the initial topic (and actually applicable for people who would be bothered by the knitting too), I would just tell the person that I didn't realize it would be a problem at first, but I'm finding their phone use/knitting very distracting, and could they please not do it any more during meals with me.

Asking seems reasonable to me, but only if you accept that they may choose to comply with your request in a way you didn't intend:  If someone asked me to not do *task* while doing *activity with them*, I may choose to just drop *activity with them* rather than dropping *task*

That's a really good point. Since knitting was brought up earlier (and to answer a question, I only use knitting where I don't have to count or look at it for social knitting, and I don't use metal or plastic needles, so the clicking is nearly impossible to hear), if somebody asked me not to knit while we're watching a movie together at one of our homes, I'd probably stop watching movies with them, or only do so at the movies instead.

That doesn't mean I think they're rude for asking, though. It's a non-rude response to a non-rude request and just means our wishes are incompatible.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: rose red on April 23, 2016, 06:48:44 AM
Doing other activities while chatting and socializing with friends and family is one thing (we've all watched tv or played cards, in a sewing circle, etc), but I sure hope nobody is knitting and playing phone games while at the dinner table. Because what's the point? Might as well take your dinner plate to different areas of the house (one kid can be in front of the TV, another can be in their room, a parent can work on bills, etc.)
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: EllenS on April 23, 2016, 07:32:55 AM
Doing other activities while chatting and socializing with friends and family is one thing (we've all watched tv or played cards, in a sewing circle, etc), but I sure hope nobody is knitting and playing phone games while at the dinner table. Because what's the point? Might as well take your dinner plate to different areas of the house (one kid can be in front of the TV, another can be in their room, a parent can work on bills, etc.)

I don't see how anyone could knit during a meal unless they use their feet. I took it as expanding to other social interactions.

But it appears OP's friend does do phone stuff during the meal. Part of the situation may be the divide between the perception of "home" vs."social" meals.

At my house, we have "reading dinner" 1-2 times a week, where everyone brings a book. Conversation also happens but is secondary. We'd never do that in a restaurant or with company or at someone else's house, but it's our home and we like it.

OP's friend is not just over for dinner - she's living there. She's having an "at home" dinner, where everything is more flexible. So it needs to be brought up directly but respectfully, as anything in a shared living situation.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Yvaine on April 23, 2016, 08:13:03 AM
I don't think it looks nice to put your phone on the table when you are eating with people.  I have a dentist friend who always does it, and he says he has to be cause he is a medical professional and a patient might have an emergency.  Fine (although before we all had cell phones I never saw him give his name to a restaurant host in case he got a call), but you can still keep it in your pocket - even leave the ringer on if you want.  Putting it out on the table makes me feel like he is hoping someone more interesting will call.

My guess is that having it on the table allows him to see at one glance whether the call is medical or not. If the display says it's just a random friend, he can hit ignore in one quick motion and get back to the conversation. With it in his pocket, he'd have to get it out every time it rang, just in case, which seems like it would be more disruptive.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: PlainJane on April 23, 2016, 08:38:06 AM
I don't use metal or plastic needles, so the clicking is nearly impossible to hear),

sorry, but I have to ask...if your needles aren't metal or plastic, what are your needles made of?

Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: athersgeo on April 23, 2016, 08:44:30 AM
I don't use metal or plastic needles, so the clicking is nearly impossible to hear),

sorry, but I have to ask...if your needles aren't metal or plastic, what are your needles made of?

Bamboo or wood of some description (my mother's just bought some birch wood needles)
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: menley on April 23, 2016, 10:04:44 AM
<snip>

OP's friend is not just over for dinner - she's living there. She's having an "at home" dinner, where everything is more flexible. So it needs to be brought up directly but respectfully, as anything in a shared living situation.

I think this is a really important point - for the time being, this is the (cousin?)'s home. How we behave at home, with family, is quite different than how we behave in a social situation.

As someone who is drained by social interactions, this was a real struggle for me when I was younger. There weren't as many discussions of introversion vs. extroversion at that time, and so I didn't really know what was going on, but I *did* know that after a long day of school and social interactions with others, I wanted to retreat into a book and not speak to anyone. When I did speak, I didn't want to talk about my day or me - I wanted to share something interesting I was reading in the book, because that didn't involve *me* and was somehow less draining. My family did not understand at all, as they craved social interaction during dinner, and often took my books away from the dinner table. It resulted in frustration for all of us.

I obviously don't know if this is the situation with the cousin, I'm just offering another perspective - but regardless, I think that treating this particular situation like a social interaction might be a misstep. Home should be a comfortable place, and I think some of the suggestions from various posters veer into the territory of instructing someone how to behave in their own home.

If it were me, I'd just have a casual conversation about it - note that I said conversation, not a statement or a dictation. I'd say that our preference was that phones not be at the dinner table, and why, and ask what the cousin thought about that. Open it up for discussion and see if she has a perspective you haven't thought about.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: MrTango on April 23, 2016, 01:14:18 PM
I don't use metal or plastic needles, so the clicking is nearly impossible to hear),

sorry, but I have to ask...if your needles aren't metal or plastic, what are your needles made of?

Bamboo or wood of some description (my mother's just bought some birch wood needles)

LadyTango uses exclusively bamboo.  For her, it's because of the texture in her hands more than the noise, but they are definitely far quieter than metal or plastic.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Lula on April 23, 2016, 02:24:15 PM
Depending on her previous living situation, perhaps Cousin is used to eating meals alone while surfing the internet, watching TV, reading the comics, or otherwise engaged in a relaxing, solitary form of entertainment.  If so, the abrupt switch to "family meals" every day might be a huge shock to her, and she might be uncomfortable and afraid to express it.  Maybe you could let her know she isn't required to Have Dinner at the Dinner Table at Dinnertime with the Family--that she is welcome to go off and do her own thing and nobody would be offended?
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: MariaE on April 24, 2016, 01:45:08 AM
I don't use metal or plastic needles, so the clicking is nearly impossible to hear),

sorry, but I have to ask...if your needles aren't metal or plastic, what are your needles made of?

Bamboo or wood of some description (my mother's just bought some birch wood needles)

LadyTango uses exclusively bamboo.  For her, it's because of the texture in her hands more than the noise, but they are definitely far quieter than metal or plastic.

What they said :) The clacking of metal needles drives even me crazy, and like LadyTango, I prefer the feel of wood/bamboo needles.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: nolechica on April 24, 2016, 09:15:58 PM
Depending on her previous living situation, perhaps Cousin is used to eating meals alone while surfing the internet, watching TV, reading the comics, or otherwise engaged in a relaxing, solitary form of entertainment.  If so, the abrupt switch to "family meals" every day might be a huge shock to her, and she might be uncomfortable and afraid to express it.  Maybe you could let her know she isn't required to Have Dinner at the Dinner Table at Dinnertime with the Family--that she is welcome to go off and do her own thing and nobody would be offended?

Exactly, I live alone now. If I suddenly had to have family dinner every night with conversation, I'd be picking up my own food on the way home or asking when I could heat up/cook my own.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Roe on April 25, 2016, 07:47:15 AM
Depending on her previous living situation, perhaps Cousin is used to eating meals alone while surfing the internet, watching TV, reading the comics, or otherwise engaged in a relaxing, solitary form of entertainment.  If so, the abrupt switch to "family meals" every day might be a huge shock to her, and she might be uncomfortable and afraid to express it.  Maybe you could let her know she isn't required to Have Dinner at the Dinner Table at Dinnertime with the Family--that she is welcome to go off and do her own thing and nobody would be offended?

Exactly, I live alone now. If I suddenly had to have family dinner every night with conversation, I'd be picking up my own food on the way home or asking when I could heat up/cook my own.

She's aware that can doesn't have to eat with us, she chooses to.  Although she did live alone before (with an out of town and sometimes there roommate), we do come from HUGE families and are both extroverts.

The phone during dinner has been resolved.  Interestingly, we both read an article about it and I said 'Ya know, I agree with this writer and we should try it this way." She agreed and that's how we are moving forward. She realizes that she might be a bit "too glued" to social media.  At least we've had discussions about it.

However, she's still on her phone during other conversations and it's still annoying. Less annoying so it's progress. 
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: Buttercup on April 27, 2016, 01:49:37 PM
My awesomely, amazing cousin (who I love very much) moved to our new city and plans to stay with us for a few months while she gets acclimated to the area. It seems she's addicted to FB and social media. 

When we are having a simple dinner conversation, she'll be scrolling through her phone and add a few "ah ha's" to the overall conversation. She'll also click on a video and share it with us, whether we want to view it or not. 

Normally, it doesn't irritate me so much as when we are having dinner.  My family and I enjoy nice family conversations during dinner without our phones at the table. 

My cousin is an adult and I hesitate in admonishing or setting rules for adults, however, her phone is really disrupting the normal flow of our family dinner conversations.

Advice on how to address this?

Your house your rules.  I think you can just say that dinner time is family time and you'd appreciate it if she put away the phone during dinner.  That way you're phrasing it as a favor to you rather than a rule.
Title: Re: phones at the table during dinner
Post by: kherbert05 on April 27, 2016, 04:18:40 PM
I don't think it looks nice to put your phone on the table when you are eating with people.  I have a dentist friend who always does it, and he says he has to be cause he is a medical professional and a patient might have an emergency.  Fine (although before we all had cell phones I never saw him give his name to a restaurant host in case he got a call), but you can still keep it in your pocket - even leave the ringer on if you want.  Putting it out on the table makes me feel like he is hoping someone more interesting will call.
My sister does this with her phone. She is a case worker in a hospital and when she is on call gets all sorts of calls and texts about patients. She doesn't like having it in her pocket when sitting and has to turn on the ringer when it is in her purse so this the least obtrusive way for her to have it. If she isn't on call - and the kids are with us or another family member it stays in the purse.

If they are at a friend's it stays out the friend's parents don't have limited medical POA*'s on the kids. (Long story short a cousin was painfully injured. Pre cell phone and his parents were in work situations where it was hard to find them. Grandparents took him to ER but all they could do was sit there till extended family drove to work sites and found parents. Since then limited medical POA's for all minors.)