01/04/2012 12:09 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Smartphone Etiquette

The iPhone, BlackBerry, and all the other brands of smartphones are wonderful inventions, but this technology has put communication into uncharted territory. Now, we're not just making or receiving phone calls. A smartphone is a mobile office that does everything with a touch of the finger, from checking e-mails to texting to surfing the Web to using a GPS.

Here are some pointers for using your smartphone:

  • Leave your phone on vibrate as often as possible. Only doctors on call should have their phones set on a loud ring.
  • Never answer your phone during a meeting, a meal, a funeral, or in a public place such as a gym.
  • If you need to make or are expecting a call when you have guests or are with friends, tell your guests/friends ahead of time so they will be prepared, and excuse yourself from the group to make or take the call.
  • Avoid texting or checking e-mail or phone messages during a meal, whether the meal is for business or pleasure. The only conversation you should be having during a meal is with the person or people at your table. And, phones off the table, please. The only items placed on the table during a meal should be connected with the meal.
  • Avoid texting or checking e-mail or phone calls while walking down the street to keep from bumping into others.
  • Don't make a phone call or otherwise use your smartphone while checking out of any type of retail establishment, such as a grocery store or department store.
  • Never take photos without asking for permission. Just think of Michael Jackson's funeral and you'll know what I'm talking about.
  • Be smart: avoid phone usage while driving.
  • Keep your phone voice low indoors. No one wants to hear a loud voice indoors.
  • Adopt a subtle ringtone, not mariachi music!

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to U.C. Berkeley and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and