It has become commonplace to have someone's phone go off during a meeting, movie, conversation or nearly any other event, but that doesn't mean it's helpful. While it can make others feel less important, it can also cause the user to be less efficient at work.
Of course, very few people can just declare they won't be using their smartphones or other devices. Most people would simply lose their jobs and be replaced. But there are ways to engage in human conversation while still using a smartphone for daily tasks and remaining connected to the outside world, whether means your job, your family, or even Instagram.
Turn off notifications
You probably don't need to be notified of everything that your phone wants to tell you. While emails are important, answering them in batches is a better use of time than answering each one as it pops up. Chances are good that you're going to take a look at your phone fairly frequently anyway, so notifications are just a distraction, not a help.
Silence is golden
Phones don't buzz the way they used to when set to vibrate. The vibration can actually be a discreet sound that's not likely to interrupt the other people you're with. Unless there's a super important phone call coming through that can't be missed, a phone set to vibrate is going to bother you less while still providing the updates that you need.
Pocket-sized for a reason
Your phone fits into a pocket or purse, and that's not a bad place to keep it. Even when set to totally silent , the illumination of your device's screen when it's sitting on your desk is enough to distract you from what you're doing to take a look. A bright light may also attract the attention of others around you, serving as an unnecessary reminder that a device is more interesting than the others in the room.
Do not disturb
Your phone can be set to not interrupt you for a period of time. You can set it to follow your calendar, so your phone knows when you're in a meeting and shouldn't be interrupted, or you can flip on do-not-disturb if you have a deadline or an unscheduled conversation that you want to give your full attention. This won't stop communications from coming in though, so when you're ready to engage digitally, your phone will be ready.
Often reserved for airplane flights, this mode shuts off all incoming and outgoing activity. You can still use your phone, but it's similar to being in the middle of the wilderness without cell reception. Incoming calls go straight to voicemail, but everything is ready for your return to service when the time is right.
It's really easy to let our devices get in the way of our communication. As technology trends to more screens in more visible places, such as smart watches and even smart eyeglasses, giving your dedicated time to others is a great sign of respect. It also increases productivity, human connection, and can even help improve your sleep.
Avi Savar is CEO and Managing Partner of Dreamit, a top venture accelerator and early stage investment fund. He is the author of Content to Commerce and consults globally on trends in digital media, disruptive technologies and corporate innovation. He has been featured on Fox News, Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, the New York Times and is a contributing editor for Inc.