5 Ways to Deal With Dinner Party Guests Who Won’t Put Down Their Phones

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It’s hard to think about dinner parties before the age of smartphones and social media without a bit of nostalgic wonder. Did we really all sit around tables looking at each other rather than our tiny screens? We just ate the food instead of Instagramming it first?

As we have become more accustomed to being constantly connected, the etiquette around cell phone use in social situations has relaxed, which means it’s not unheard of to invite friends over for a nice dinner, only to have them spend the evening constantly checking their phones. What’s a frustrated host to do? I spoke with a couple experts to get their advice on different ways to deal with those dinner party guests who seem more interested in screen time than face time.

First, I wondered if I was just being old-fashioned for thinking that a dinner party is a time for socializing with friends, not Facebook. Unless I am expecting an urgent call or email, I prefer to put my phone away and keep it away. (Although I am not immune! The top photo is actually Ariel and me Instagramming photos from a Kitchn retreat dinner party, a brief phone interlude in an otherwise face-to-face socializing evening, I swear.)

But I know many people who have no issue with friends using their phones constantly at social gatherings. When I feel stung by someone who answers a text instead of the question I just asked her, am I being overly sensitive?

No, says Molly Watson, the etiquette expert behind the advice blog Ask a (Sensible) Midwesterner. She agrees that cell phone use at a dinner party sends an off-putting message to everyone present.

“It’s rude. Whether or not it’s what the person intends, it clearly communicates that the person using it has better, more interesting things to attend to.”

And Brendan Francis Newnam, co-host of the radio show The Dinner Party Download, agrees.

“It’s no more realistic to think that people won’t look at their cell phones than to think they won’t judge your apartment. That said, cell phones are corrosive to the fellowship that makes dinner parties special. In short — they are simply not okay.”

So how can a frustrated host deal with the situation? Here are a few ideas.

Strategy 1: Do nothing, but don’t invite them back.

You could take the path of least resistance and just ignore the problem for the evening, but mentally add that person to your Do Not Invite list for the future. This is Watson’s preferred course of action. When someone pulls out a cell phone at a dinner party, she points out:

“It’s rude behavior, but commenting on rude behavior is, itself, rude behavior.”

Biting your tongue isn’t easy, but you won’t risk ruining your party with an awkward scene.

Strategy 2: Allow a periodic communal checking of phones.

Letting everyone give in briefly to their addiction will make it easier to continue the evening phone-free. It’s the 2014 version of a smoke break, and the method Newnam recommends:

“Confront it head on — between courses say something like ‘Let’s all check our phones now so we can get back to hanging out.’ I do this at restaurants when someone leaves to go to the bathroom. I wish there was a German or French word for a brief interlude to check your phone that would make it seem more classy.”

French or German speakers, any ideas?

Strategy 3: Fight back, but with a sense of humor.

If you are not up for confronting a guest in front of the rest of the party, you can take the sneakier, more passive-aggressive (and funnier!) route that Newnam suggests:

“Fight fire with fire. Text them a little message. Something like You lose orYour husband is hitting on me or a picture from your phone…of them staring at their phone.”

A friend with a good sense of humor will get it and put his phone away. Someone who is easily offended might get huffy — but why would want to spend the evening with a rude, easily offended person anyway?

Strategy 4: Ask them why.

Perhaps your guest has a good reason for being glued to her phone, like an urgent phone call she is expecting, or a last-minute work email she has to deal with. If that’s the case, asking guests why they keep looking at their phones instead of engaging with the party will either set your mind at ease somewhat or call attention to their rude behavior. Watson has a tactful approach:

“I might ask them if they had somewhere else to be or what the emergency is, since that’s the only reason they’d be dragging their phone out instead of enjoying the food and conversation.”

And Newnam is a little more no-nonsense:

“Walk up to the offending phone fiddler and say, ‘Hey, I’m really glad you came. Do you need to be somewhere else? If not, I’d appreciate it if you put your phone down and joined us for a couple of hours.'”

Either way, your guests will be more conscious of their phone-fiddling for the rest of the evening.

Strategy 5: Take the phones away.

Maybe politely pointing out rampant phone use doesn’t solve the problem, or several of the guests are stuck to their phones. In these cases, treating everyone like misbehaving kindergarteners is the best course of action — you take away allphones. Newnam recommends this as a last-ditch option.

“If none of the above works, collect everyone’s phone in a shoebox when they enter the party. Assure your guests that ‘phones in a box’ is not an update version of ‘car keys in the bowl’ swinger parties from the seventies. On second thought, don’t assure them.”

I have a friend who will sometimes call for a “phone pile” and everyone has to stack their phones in the middle of the table. We always get why — he only does this when most of the party is engaging with devices instead of their friends — and I’ve never seen anyone get offended or upset. It’s often a relief to have the phones out of our hands, temptation out of reach, and our focus on the people and food around us. Just like in the long-ago days before smartphones.

Do you have any tips for dealing with dinner guests who won’t stop looking at their phones? Or do you believe it isn’t a host’s place to tell guests what to do?

Re-blogged from: http://www.thekitchn.com/

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Are YOU making this Etiquette Mistake?


Sunday’s From the Heart Series – It’s all about the etiquette
 

title page of Etiquette an Rococo-Arabeske

 

 

OR, maybe you don’t give a hoot about proper etiquette?

 

         I do! Even acquaintances of mine will tell you it doesn’t take long to see I am all about manners and proper etiquette!

 

          I was reading an article the other day about the proper way to handle different etiquette situations, and the topic of being invited to a shower or a party (etc.) hosted (and I use this term loosely) at a restaurant, but with the intention of you paying for your own meal. I thought it was funny because this is a pet peeve of mine, a HUGE one! I have addressed etiquette on my blog before and I thought – it’s a favorite subject of mine, so why not do it again? I love hearing what other people are thinking, so I really hope you will comment. It can’t be just me who is missing those long ago days of manners, along with “Please” and “Thank you.”

 

          (Back to the subject) This has happened to me on several occasions, and I must admit I chose not to attend the functions. We all view situations in a different light, and this is only my opinion. “Hey, we are having a baby (wedding, etc.) shower at (insert restaurant) in (insert town 2 hours away) on (date, time) for (insert name). We would love (exaggerating) for you to attend, but you will have to buy your own meal.

 

         This is what I hear when someone issues this type of invitation: “Hey. We want to you to drive two hours, bring a nice gift, and buy your own meal. Want to come?”

 

         My answer: “No thank you”.

 

         Now, my circumstances may be a little different in that this is the only time I hear from these types of people, and maybe my response reflects this. Hubby and I do not invite people to join us for anything unless we can pick up the tab. I feel that it is inappropriate to invite someone with the expectation that they travel this distance (and incur fuel expenses as well as four hours driving time alone), purchase a gift, and their meal.

 

         It really makes me wonder if they had the party at their house, would they have a donation box at the door to defray the cost. Personally, under the conditions where the host cannot actually afford to “host” the event, a smaller gathering at their home would be more suitable.

 

         I know if I were to attend such an event, the cost of the gift would be significantly altered by the additional expenses I would incur; than if I were attending the same event at someone’s home where I was not expected to also pay for my meal.

 

         Now, that being said, there have been occasions where my Hubby’s large family has met at a restaurant for a birthday and each family picked up the tab for their family. This is not the same thing. There are always occasions when friends will meet up at a restaurant and everyone will pay for their own tab. These are not the occasions of which I speak.

 

         To sum up this post (I guess I did that already) I feel that if you cannot afford to host the event at a nice restaurant, you should choose a less expensive venue, or have the party at your home. You should not ask others to pay for your party. I would much rather attend a simple affair at your home than pick up the tab for your party.

 

         Now that I have vented and expressed my personal opinion, I would love to hear your take on this particular situation. Do you think it is proper to host an event and expect people to pay their own way?

 

 

 

 

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When no means NO!

Question Mark
Question Mark (Photo credit: auntiepauline)
When someone tells you no, does it register?
 Do you stop what you are doing or saying?
Or, do you continue?
No, means no!
        No, I do not want that food. No, do not sit on the dog. No, I do not want to answeryour question. No. No. NO!
       I recently wrote a piece on manners for my blog; and one of the commenters asked me to write on accepting no. Her example was one I was actually all too familiar with so I thought, why not.
“These days when people say no thank you to an invitation, for some reason they feel compelled to explain why. Invariably, the comment is something like, “I can’t make it because I am doing something WAY MORE FUN than attending your event!” A simple “no thank you” should be sufficient. I use a “no thank you”, no matter if I have another pressing engagement or I don’t feel like going. Also, when I use my simple “no thank you”, I have been asked to explain why I can’t go. “What else could you be doing that could possibly be more important and why don’t you rearrange it?” the host demands. It makes for an awkward situation.”
       I am with her on this. If I invite you somewhere, you do not need to explain – unless you happen to be my best friend and we always explain– why you cannot attend. A simple “I would love to, but I’m busy that night” more than suffices. When I am invited and I do not wish to attend or for some reason, cannot, I simply say thank you for the invitation, but I will be unable to attend. I also wish them a great event.
       I do not feel I need to explain past that response and I absolutely abhor being interrogated. It really is not anyone’s business. Anyone who has this habit might want to check themselves. The next time you ask someone “why”, you may just get an honest answer you do not want to hear. I know that in my life, it has gotten to the point where I get really honest in my answers when pushed. Yes, it makes for an awfully awkward moment, but then again, put the awkward back on them with an honest answer – not ugly – honest. After all, they pushed the subject.
       At one time, I had a friend who was obsessive about knowing everyone’s business. She had a bad habit of asking inappropriate questions and would not take no for an answer. She would push and push no matter how many times you told her that you did not want to talk about something or that it was none of her business.
       I am an extremely private person  -you are probably thinking –private? – and so she writes a blog?- and I do not like other people in my business. If I constantly change the subject when you ask a question, you can be absolutely sure that is “Me telling You” – finger pointing here –  that I do not wish to talk about whatever it is that you are trying to pry out of me. Now, on the other hand, if you cannot shut me up, it is a clear indication that I am willing to share, so at that point, you had better ask your questions, because those times are rare.
       I have recently adopted the policy, if someone keeps pressing me for more information, to the point of being rude, and making me uncomfortable, then that person needs to hear no less than the truth. If being nice and giving an evasive answer does not work, then transfer the awkward position that they have put you in, to them. Tell them the truth. You just do not want to attend. You have other things you would rather do.
       I know this sounds rude, but to have to resort to this type of answer, means the person has pushed you beyond appropriate boundaries. It should not matter why you do not want to attend a function just that you do not; and you have been respectful in stating your feelings.
Colossians 3:12-14 tells us, “… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (NIV 1984)
       We all need to be mindful of others in our lives, and to remember when having to give answers to difficult people, be as kind, and gentle, as you are able to be. Some people still may not “get it” but our job as aChristian is to keep the exchange as kind as possible and extendforgiveness for their ignorance.
Thanks for joining me today!
Don’t forget to follow my blog for more stories!
      As always, I encourage you to share your opinions and experiences, and/or questions. Remember to show courtesy to others in your comments.

Are YOU making this etiquette mistake?

Sunday’s From the Heart Series – It’s all about the etiquette 
OR, maybe you don’t give a hoot about proper etiquette?
         I do! Even acquaintances of mine will tell you it doesn’t take long to see I am all about manners and proper etiquette!
         I was reading an article the other day about the proper way to handle different etiquette situations, and the topic of being invited to a shower or a party (etc.) hosted (and I use this term loosely) at arestaurant, but with the intention of you paying for your own meal. I thought it was funny because this is a pet peeve of mine, a HUGE one! I have addressed etiquette on my blog before and I thought – it’s a favorite subject of mine, so why not do it again? I love hearing what other people are thinking, so I really hope you will comment. It can’t be just me who is missing those long ago days of manners, along with “Please” and “Thank you.”
         (Back to the subject) This has happened to me on several occasions, and I must admit I chose not to attend the functions. We all view situations in a different light, and this is only my opinion. “Hey, we are having a baby (wedding, etc.) shower at (insert restaurant) in (insert town 2 hours away) on (date, time) for (insert name). We would love (exaggerating) for you to attend, but you will have to buy your own meal.
         This is what I hear when someone issues this type of invitation: “Hey. We want to you to drive two hours, bring a nice gift, and buy your own meal. Want to come?”
         My answer: “No thank you”.
         Now, my circumstances may be a little different in that this is the only time I hear from these types of people, and maybe my response reflects this. Hubby and I do not invite people to join us for anything unless we can pick up the tab. I feel that it is inappropriate to invite someone with the expectation that they travel this distance (and incur fuel expenses as well as four hours driving time alone), purchase a gift, and their meal.
         It really makes me wonder if they had the party at their house, would they have a donation box at the door to defray the cost. Personally, under the conditions where the host cannot actually afford to “host” the event, a smaller gathering at their home would be more suitable.
         I know if I were to attend such an event, the cost of the gift would be significantly altered by the additional expenses I would incur; than if I were attending the same event at someone’s home where I was not expected to also pay for my meal.
         Now, that being said, there have been occasions where my Hubby’s large family has met at a restaurant for a birthday and each family picked up the tab for their family. This is not the same thing. There are always occasions when friends will meet up at a restaurant and everyone will pay for their own tab. These are not the occasions of which I speak.
         To sum up this post (I guess I did that already) I feel that if you cannot afford to host the event at a nice restaurant, you should choose a less expensive venue, or have the party at your home. You should not ask others to pay for your party. I would much rather attend a simple affair at your home than pick up the tab for your party.
         Now that I have vented and expressed my personal opinion, I would love to hear your take on this particular situation. Do you think it is proper to host an event and expect people to pay their own way?
Thanks for joining me today!
Don’t forget to follow my blog for more 
Sunday’s From the Heart and Tuesday’s All Things Southern! 
 
Donna