What Do I Do When My Cell Rings During Dinner

Phone call during dinner
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If you're like most people, you have your cell phone with you at all times. However, there are certain situations when you should turn it off or put it on silent. 

Q&A About Cell Phones at the Table

Question: What do I do when my cell phone rings during dinner?

My friends like to stay in touch and sometimes even my employer calls me at odd times. Should I answer my phone while I am at dinner? 

Answer: The cell phone has become a necessity. Most people don't want to be without their phones, but remember that there is a time and place for cell phone conversations. The dinner table isn't the place for your cell phone.

If you are dining, whether it's at home, at a friend's home or at a restaurant, you should definitely turn off your cell phone. If for some reason you don't wan to turn it off, it should at least be put on silent mode.

Answering and holding a conversation during dinner or at the dining table is considered rude behavior. The message you send by talking on the phone during dinner is that this call or person calling is more important to you than those with whom you are dining.

If you are dining alone feel free to hold a conversation. Still, if you are eating it may cause discomfort to the person with whom you are speaking. It really is okay to be out of pocket for the time it takes to eat a meal. Take a little time off and just relax and enjoy dining with family and/or friends without interruptions.

Question: Is it ever okay to have your cell phone on at the dinner table?

Answer: There may be certain times that it's acceptable to have your cell phone on at the table, but you need to always put your companions first. If you are eating alone, enjoy your phone as much as you want to as long as you don't sound gross to the person you're chatting with. Don't smack or make slurping sounds.


When you talk on your cell phone in front of others, they only hear one side of the conversation, and this can come across as rude as whispering. It creates discomfort and confusion in the people who are physically in your presence. If you must answer it, let the person know you are busy and you'll call him back. However, if it's an emergency call, get up and leave the room. When you return to the dining table, apologize for leaving, and if necessary, offer a brief explanation of the call.

Group Calls

During your dinner conversation, you and your dining partners may decide you'd like to chat with someone who isn't there. Only if you all agree to place the call should you do so at the table. However, it is bad form to hold a group chat while everyone is eating, so it's best to wait until you are finished with the meal. Remember that it isn't polite to talk with your mouths full. You also don't want to disrupt others if you are at a restaurant. And never expect your server to wait while you finish your phone conversation.


It's also rude to text on your cell phone at the dinner table. You're still engaging in a conversation with someone who isn't there, while ignoring those who are dining with you. If you're in the middle of a text conversation, let the person know you'll resume your "conversation" later and give your attention to your fellow diners.


Some people enjoy having their pictures taken with people they eat with. If everyone at the table agrees, take a few pictures with your cell phone, but don't have a long photo session during dinner. Do it before the food arrives or after everyone is finished. Your server may offer to snap a photo, but don't get upset if he or she is too busy to stop working to take your picture.

Posting on Social Media

Let's say you're eating at a really cool restaurant, and you want all of your followers and "friends" to know you're there. Is it okay to post this on social media? The answer is yes, but only if you're at a fast food restaurant or super casual dining establishment. And do it only after you place your order, but before your food arrives. In other words, most of the time it's bad form to post on social media from the dining table.


Edited by Debby Mayne