There is this unwritten rule when buying a new toy: you reach first for instructions. Regardless if it is a new coffee machine, a new stereo system, a new car or an Ikea piece of furniture, you first reach for the instructions or for the user manual. We might already know what to expect or how to put it together but we still look over the instructions. And, in most cases, the booklet will teach you how to assemble the new purchase and how to use it, maybe a trick or two or a couple of shortcuts. A few will tell you when to use it too but most will leave it to your discretion, the manufacturer trusting you, the consumer, with having common sense and a bit of education in the field. Plus, let’s face it, what company in the right mind, will tell you when to use your coffee machine or car? But are we really up to speed with everything when we talk technology? Should we be trusted with using technology without any rules or guidelines at least? I truly believe that every smart phone or iPad should come with a Code of Manners for the User.
It amazes me that after 10 years since the first Smart Phone, we are as uneducated and clueless in when and how to use it as we were in the first year. There are thousands of articles and books written on this subject, there are Instagrams and PowerPoint presentations and all sorts of material on proper manners when using a smart phone and yet, we decide to ignore and use them as we like, when we like and how we like. So let me say it once again as loud as possible: the number one rule in business world: Put your phone away when you attend a meeting! I don’t care if there are 2, 3 or 100 people in that meeting, put your phone away! And this is why:
1. The necessity of having a cell/smart/just phone is to keep people that are physically apart in contact. And when I say physically apart, I do not mean 2 steps away from you, in the next office or on the same floor. When it takes you more than a few minutes to walk to that person, then by all means, use the phone. But when a meeting is called, the only people that you need to talk to at that particular moment are in the same room with you, therefore put your phone away!
2. Nobody calls a meeting only because he/she is bored… well, almost never… but, in any case, most of us, most of the time are busy and with little time to spare. The meetings can be extremely productive and a great tool to refocus the team on projects or, if ill managed just a cancer of the business. It is the responsibility of every person involved in that meeting to make it productive. And the first step is paying attention and making sure you understand the message, the concerns and the solutions presented. So put the phone away; unless it is a matter of life and death, any other business decisions or calls can wait a bit.
3. Show respect to every colleague as their point of view is as important as yours or somebody else’s and you might miss on a great idea. Remember the old saying “I did not get the memo!” By fidgeting with the phone while a colleague, let alone your manager speaks, will definitely make you miss “the memo”! The message that you involuntarily give away by not paying attention is that of disrespect or “not interested in what you have to say”. It will not buy you any points with your colleagues or manager.
4. Unless you are at a TED conference or contracted to tweet a live event, stop texting or tweeting. More than sure the people that needed to be invited in the meeting are in the room and the business decision that needs to be communicated or discussed is the one on this meeting agenda so, please focus and let the rest of the world deal with their own issues. Allow this meeting to be on track and on time by discussing only the items on the agenda and by allowing everybody to focus on these items only.
I love technology, I love smart phones for oh, so many reasons. If I were to pick a couple would be for the easy access to knowledge in every and any field within seconds, and for allowing me to virtually be a part of my family’s every day life on the old continent. As with any other tool, there has to be rules within which we use technology when we interact with other people. We try so hard not to hurt their feelings and show respect when we have the Smart Phones tucked away but, as soon as they show up, these concepts go flying out the window and suddenly we don’t care. As if surviving in the business world is not difficult enough, let’s use technology to make it easier…