Is The Glance 2.0 Socially Acceptable?

December 8, 2015

One of the reasons I love my Apple Watch is the ability to check notifications with a simple glance rather than pulling out my phone. I told myself that the glance is less offensive in social, and business settings because its smaller and doesn’t break the flow of conversation. Having been in San Francisco with my team last week (I work remotely), I got called out by one of the nicest people on my team. She pulled me aside privately and said,

“By the way, you checking that [my watch] all the time? It’s got to stop lol”.

“What? Like looking at my watch?”

“Yeah, maybe I just need to get used to this as more people get them, but it sends a bad impression that I know you aren’t trying to make.”

“I didn’t even think about that! Is that worse then taking out my phone?”

“Totally! At least for me.”


This got me thinking about the glance.

The universal body language for “GET ME THE F&@* OUT OF HERE” is the watch glance.

This subconscious bias poses a problem for me, especially when traveling. I have a young boy, who happened to be sick last week while I was in SF. I was hypersensitive and likely glanced a lot more as I worried every buzz was news of another episode of projectile vomit. My colleague noticed these frequent glances throughout the week, and then it crescendoed during our full day offsite.

She is right. It is offensive. Perhaps even more so than the full phone because that gesture requires a lot more movement. You will likely ignore the noise, and only go full phone if you really feel you need to. The watch makes the glance too easy. Every time you glance you get new information, which reinforces the gesture and builds a habit.

The glance is a new, high signal gesture. Be mindful of your surroundings and use it sparingly when others are around.