March 12, 2013

Are you engaged?

Where are our mobile manners?

Where are our mobile manners?

I worked in an advertising agency back in the early ‘90s when a new business win mushroomed into half of our agency business—cell phone advertising. I still remember a creative director asking me what it would take to get me to purchase a cell phone. He was looking for ad concept ideas. The big selling point at the time was “safety.” And I recall saying, “Why would I need one? I have AAA.”

It was the “in” thing then to have a cell phone. Now, 20 years later, it has become a necessity. According to a Synovate survey in 2011, “82% of Americans never leave home without their phones.”

A recent article in Ragan’s Daily Headlines said only 29% of employees are engaged at work. The article offered advice on getting employees motivated and enthused about their work. But it brought to mind all the meetings I have sat in where colleague(s) have brought their cell phones and been mainly engaged in reading messages and texting responses rather than in listening and participating. Sometimes they try to hide what they are doing by putting their phone in their lap—then instead of seeing their face you see the top of their head. Or they are smirking at a response. It’s their way of saying, “I don’t really want to be in this meeting.”

Where are our manners? Our moms taught us: Always be considerate of others; be a good listener; follow the Golden Rule. Where are our mobile manners—“cell phone etiquette”? The Internet is filled with articles on cell phone rudeness. According to one article “almost seven out of 10 (68%) said they observe poor cell phone etiquette at least once every day.”

We all have many demands on our time at work. And we’ve all been invited to meetings that we didn’t want to attend. But the chair of the meeting deserves our full attention and participation. Turn your cell off. Most meetings don’t last more than an hour and, if they do, there is usually a break. Perfect time to check in on your cell phone. After all, some day you may be chairing a meeting. Won’t you expect all the attendees to be engaged?