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How to Wear It

Don’t Be That Person: Smart Watch Etiquette in an Oft-Dumb World

What’s the fastest way to alienate your conversational partner? Check your smart watch.

It’s been a social faux pas since the wrist watch became de rigeur: checking your watch in the midst of a conversation or social gathering is the ultimate sign of boredom, disengagement, and disinterest. The classic image of the impatient, harried professional checking their watch (often accompanied with an indignant toe-tap, as if to spur on action) while waiting in queue or for a service professional to complete their task faster is ingrained in the modern consciousness. We’ve all been there, we all know it’s wrong, but many of us just can’t help ourselves.

With the rise of the smartphone, mobile etiquette has taken different forms: there’s the trusty Phone Stack method, which has diners place their phones in the center of the table and whoever caves first buys dinner; there are numerous guides on when/how to check a phone; and, now, the rise of smart jewelry, which blinks or buzzes (some more subtly than others) to alert you when you have a message even when your phone is tucked away.

Now, in a post-Apple Watch world, we’ve come back full circle, to the image of the harried, distracted professional habitually checking their watch. Fortunately, the International Business Times has some tips on when/where to check your Apple Watch so as not to step on any toes:

  • Never check your watch during a conversation. – Unless you’re expecting to learn of something life-changingly important, ignore your watch’s notifications. Nothing is ruder than explicitly telling your conversation partner that they aren’t worth your time by checking your smart watch.
  • Silence the device just as you would a phone. – In crowded rooms or movie theaters, take advantage of the watch’s silent/sleep mode and prevent it from causing a distraction in a critical moment. Remember: no one wants to be that person.
  • When in doubt, turn it off. – If you aren’t sure if you can ignore your device, or if you know that you’re in a situation where giving the other person 100% of your attention is critical, don’t take any risks. Turn off your Apple Watch, put it away, and fully engage in the conversation or situation.

As devices like the Apple Watch become more ubiquitous, the etiquette is going to change and adapt. Regardless, technology is never an excuse to be rude or inconsiderate. “With the advent of cellphones, we got worse before we got better,” said Diane Gottsman, owner of the Protocol School of Texas and a nationally recognized expert on manners. “It was new to us. As something becomes the norm, we learn and we adapt and we start to realize how we’re affecting others when we use that device.”

For more information, please read the full article here.