by Al Sacco

Mobile Phone Etiquette: Vibrate Mode Just as Rude as Ringtones

Jan 30, 20122 mins
iPhoneMobileSmall and Medium Business's Al Sacco says setting your smartphone to "vibrate mode" can be just as rude a simply letting it ring during meetings, conferences or in movie theatres and restaurants. Here's why.

As is common in today’s business world, I frequently find myself in packed meeting- or conference-rooms, full of colleagues that choose to place some sort of smartphone on the table next to their laptops, tablets, notepads and other conference materials.


In fact, it seems like showing off your smartphone in meetings by placing it on the table has become a corporate rite of passage or status symbol of sorts.

Thankfully, most of the folks I work and/or convene with are conscientious enough to turn their ringtones off during meetings. And I’m okay with the whole smartphone-on-the-table thing. (I admit it, I do it too.)

Unfortunately, in some cases, turning your phone to “vibrate mode” or swapping out your ringtone for a buzzing notification just doesn’t cut it. Those vibrations can be just as loud and annoying as your Star-Wars-themed ringtone, maybe even more so.

Case in point:

I’m sitting in a two-day training course last week, around a small table with four other attendees. Four of the five people have smartphones in front of them. One woman with a BlackBerry Bold 9000 has her device set to vibrate, and she’s getting at least a few messages every couple of minutes.

Despite a number of disapproving glares, and a not so subtle hint from moi, Buzzing BlackBerry Lady lets here smartphone buzz nearly non-stop for two separate 10-hour training sessions, ultimately annoying everyone around her and making her a less than desirable choice as partner in the various “team-building” exercises we were assigned.

The lesson here: Most smartphones offer not only some sort of vibrate mode, but also a “silent mode,” which, you guessed it, is designed to completely silence your device. In meetings, conferences, or even everyday locales like the movie theatre or in a nice restaurant, silent mode is often far more appropriate than vibrate.

So, please, take a moment to familiarize yourself with your smartphone’s notification settings and think about when it’s appropriate to use silent mode versus vibrate. Be aware of those around you. Or, you know, simply put your phone away when you’re in your next meeting. It’s just good mobile phone etiquette.