Has switching off your mobile phone become a thing of the past? It is for many Americans. A recent study conducted by Pew Research Center indicates that 92% of U.S. adults now have a cell phone of some kind and that 90% of those individuals frequently have the phone with them. Furthermore, 31% of cell phone owners say they “never turn their phone off” and 45% say “they rarely do.”

Some of these statistics may not surprise you if you’ve been in meetings or social settings where people are answering calls on their mobile phones, even if just to say they can’t talk. And it’s pretty uncommon nowadays not to find someone using a mobile phone while walking down the street or on public transit.

Ironically, while Americans generally view using mobile phones as annoying and distracting when used in social settings, many use them when they are with someone else or in a group.  Among the Pew Research Center survey respondents, 82% say that when people use their phones in these settings it frequently or occasionally hurts the conversation. However, fully 89% said that they used their phone during their most recent time with others, and 86% reported that someone else in the group used their phone during the gathering. A majority indicated they used their phone to send or read a message, take photos or videos, or receive an incoming call. Often times, mobile phone use is related to the gathering, such as sending a picture of the group to someone else or to post it on social media.

Communication challenge of “always-on cell phones”

The bottom line is that when it comes to mobile phone use, “always-on” is becoming the norm and that poses challenges to good communication, which is what your small business depends on. When you are using your mobile phone for whatever reason, you are not giving someone or the group your complete attention.

Here are some of my suggestions for good mobile etiquette that I shared with Small Business Trends in “10 Rules of Mobile Etiquette for Small Businesses.”

Avoid checking smartphones in meetings: This applies to visually checking for text messages, emails and missed calls, or listening to voice mails. Checking your mobile phone distracts you from giving your full attention to the meeting at hand. It may be construed among other attendees that you find the people in the meeting to be boring or unimportant – certainly not the message you want to convey.

Move 10 feet away if you must make a call: Ideally you don’t need to interrupt face-to-face conversation with someone else. But if you must, excuse yourself and explain why the call can’t wait. Then move to a location – some say at least 10 feet – where you can respect the personal space of others.

Ditch the wild ringtone: Want to convey professionalism – ditch the acid rock ringtone. This might sound funny but your ringtones say a lot about you. When it comes to business, keep it that way and pick discreet ring tones.

Plan for good reception:  If you know you will be spending time on the phone while you are out of the office, check to make sure you’ll get good mobile phone coverage in the area. Nothing disrupts your ability to create rapport on an important business call more than when you keep hearing, “Could you repeat that? You broke up there.” If bad reception persists, then hang up and offer to call from another location.

A headset can contribute to good mobile phone etiquette. Headsets ensure audio clarity for callers by keeping down background noise. Find Plantronics wireless headsets that support your small business needs.