Smartphones Cause People to Abandon All Common Sense!
Image via CrunchBase
What happened to the days when people silenced phones during meetings, or better yet, left them in the drawer for the better part of the workday? Smartphones have allowed us to show everyone in the room how important and busy we are.
An employee that I supervised would bring her BlackBerry into client meetings. And when she didn't have a fresh personal email to read, she would allow herself to absently scroll through previous messages. Since I was her boss, I knew there was nothing so important that she could not wait to read it until after the meeting.
One time, a client asked her a direct question and, being engrossed in her most recent personal drama, completely missed the inquiry. I answered the question for her and wanted to kick her shin under the table. After the meeting, I told her to never bring that device to a meeting with her again.
Unfortunately, some people are answering social media queries, posting social media content and attending to all sorts of other unnecessary garbage during business meetings and other face-to-face gatherings. Last fall, I watched a government official spend an entire three-hour city council meeting on his BlackBerry. He did not ask a single question of any of the speakers. He was the last one to vote on every vote. He was too busy lap reading and lap texting to notice.
There is a time and a place for using personal devices. Meetings are NOT one of those times. Some people use the excuse of "multi-tasking" to explain away their behavior. This causes the person right in front of you to feel less important than the person you're tweeting, texting or emailing.
When my kids call me over and over, I simply send them a quick text: "In a meeting, call u later." All other messages go unanswered. Best yet, I send a quick pre-emptive text to anyone likely to call me. "In a meeting all afternoon, I'll call you when I'm done." PERIOD.
Smartphones and social media are a powerful aphrodisiac for technology addicts. There are only a few good reasons to take a phone call during a meeting. There aren't ANY good reasons to do social networking of any kind during meetings.
So, if you're one of those important people who just must play with your iPad while you're supposed to be listening, get over yourself and get back to work. If you just don't have the nerve to tell someone they're an obnoxious technology jerk, leave me a comment and I will gladly forward it on to the right person. Thanks for reading, and please share your own technology pet peeves!