Coworkers Notice When You Send Texts During Meetings - InformationWeek

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5/17/2010
10:10 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Coworkers Notice When You Send Texts During Meetings

Colleagues -- and managers if they are in the room -- definitely notice when meeting attendees break out their smartphone to check/send messages. Guess what? They think it's rude. Don't do it.

Colleagues -- and managers if they are in the room -- definitely notice when meeting attendees break out their smartphone to check/send messages. Guess what? They think it's rude. Don't do it.The temptation is intense. A boring meeting. Too much work to do. Too much time away from your desk. Isn't this exactly what cell phones are for? Checking messages when away from your desk? It won't hurt anyone if you take out your smartphone and peek at your inbox, right? Wrong.

People who check their smartphones during meetings and ignore the topic at hand are seen as rude, and send a clear message to the other attendees: I don't care about you.

This information comes from Christine Pearson, professor of international business at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, who has performed research on the subject of civility for 10 years. "Technological devices have ... enhanced our connectedness at work. But they have also led to a greater degree of incivility - a trend that is damaging our workplace relationships."

Pearson outlines the psychological reasons behind electronic device use and how it rewards and stimulates our minds. She contends that we're over-using technology and hurting professional and personal relationships when we put electronic devices before people who are in the same room.

She explains, "When people disappear from formal or informal meetings via their electronic devices, their colleagues interpret it this way: 'You are less important to me than my cellphone/P.D.A./laptop/latest gizmo.'" Do you really want to be sending that message to your boss or supervisor?

Believe it or not, there are consequences beyond furrowed eyebrows and irritation. Coworkers who feel they've been slighted are likely to deliver retribution in one form or another.

Pearson offers three pointers:

  • Keep your own use of electronic devices at a minimum when interacting with others. If you have an urgent need to use one, let others know.
  • If you are on the receiving end of an electronic disappearing act and want face-to-face attention, politely ask for it.
  • If you're a manager, emphasize that such face-to-face time is valuable. Consider imposing a moratorium on devices during some meetings, but allowing more breaks so that everyone can check their e-mail, texts and networking accounts. And, most of all, set guidelines about what is and isn't reasonable, and hold everyone to them - including yourself.
There aren't bad suggestions at all, and could help strengthen work relationships and team productivity -- not to mention keep you in the good graces of your manager.

[Via New York Times]

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