Do you think of yourself as a polite person? I’m guessing you do. But you may be offending people without even realizing it.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

Example #1: I ran into an old grad school classmate at a wedding. While we chatted, I noticed something curious. Every few seconds, he would reach into his pocket, pull out his phone, and glance at the screen. “What are you up to these days?” he asked me. And during my response – which, I assure you, was fascinating – he took out his phone, looked at the screen, and started typing a reply.

Example #2: I was talking on the phone with my cousin. During our conversation, I noticed these short breaks in her story. A little pause. Then she’d pick up where she left off. Finally I asked, “Are you in the middle of something?” Turns out, a friend was sending her a text message. And she was reading it while she talked to me.

Example #3: My fiance went into a gas station to pay. The station was deserted, but it still took him 10 minutes. The reason for the delay? The attendant had been busily text-messaging and didn’t notice him come in.

Now I may be the last person in America to say this, but I don’t text-message. I’ve sent maybe five quick texts in my life. And I have to say, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. But if you are buried in your texts, YOU might be missing out.

Although I haven’t asked him, I’m guessing Michael Masterson feels the same way about extensive text-messaging as he does about e-mail and instant messaging. It’s a time waster. Not only that, it’s rude if you do it while talking to someone else, in a meeting, or at work. It’s a good way to prove to people that whoever’s on the other end of your phone is more important than they are.

Bottom line: Don’t send or receive text messages when your attention should be elsewhere.

[Ed. Note: What are your thoughts on texting? Let us know right here.]