We’ve reached a tipping point, I believe, in the use of mobile devices. These tools have had a wildly successful positive impact on our efficiency and ability to communicate. But too much of any good thing can eventually become a bad thing, and that is where we are with mobile devices. And we’re hearing it from every single organization we partner with. People are sitting in meetings, reading their emails, only half listening to their colleagues, and stepping out of the room frequently to take calls. What was once a significant efficiency, has now become a significant inefficiency.
In our effort to be more available to people far away, we are becoming completely unavailable to the people standing right in front of us. And our dedication to being available has generated a culture of deep disrespect to the people around us.
I’ll be blunt… it is rude and disrespectful to sit in a meeting, and openly read and answer your email while your colleagues are speaking. The message being communicated is “you don’t matter, this topic doesn’t matter, I don’t want to be here.” And if you communicate that message to others, you are contributing to an organizational narrative where that behavior is OK and acceptable. Others will then mimic the behavior, and the downward spiral of organizational disrespect begins.
We are hearing conflicting feedback on this topic… everyone hates it, and yet everyone does it. We are addicted and we don’t know how to get clean.
Don’t wait for new organizational behaviors to be sent down from on high. Don’t wait for the edict from leadership. New behaviors can be created in little pods from anywhere on the organizational chart. Start being present in your meetings. Start being mindful (as opposed to Mind FULL). Start respecting others by simply giving your attention. If you show that respect to others, they will be more likely to show that respect to you. And within your little team, have a conversation around new behaviors. Make a commitment to each other to turn the phones off.
You know what might happen? If you are all present, and all listening, your meetings may be more efficient, may end on time once in a while, and you may create new time on your calendar to answer all those texts and emails that seem so important. And most importantly you will be demonstrating respect to your colleagues, which has far reaching, though perhaps unquantifiable, benefits to your brand and the bottom line.
Do yourself and everyone else a favor. Turn the phones off.
Photo: Joe McCarthy