When you utilize your cell phone during a meeting you communicate three things. First, this meeting and the attendees are not as important as any call or text that may be received. Second, engagement before or during the meeting is optional. Third, social media is far more interesting than anything that may be learned during this conference.
Culturally, we have succumbed to this mindset because we are addicted to our convenient technology. We believe that there may be an emergency that needs our immediate attention. Out of habit we constantly look at our cell phone screens. Our need for a dopamine rush propels us physically to peek. Our excuse is, “Everyone else is doing it; including the boss.”
Let’s break this addiction down realistically. The most important people who will be giving input for the meeting are already there. In the office, other coworkers know you are otherwise engaged during said meeting and can physically find you in the event of an emergency. You can set the “double tap” rule for friends, family, or other coworkers if someone truly needs to get a hold of you while this meeting is in place. (If there is a real emergency, the person will call, hang up and call again immediately thus signaling a true need for your attention.)
When we choose to overcome our desire for instant gratification in lieu of respect for our fellow attendees we communicate the value each person brings to the assembly. We can engage fully in the conversation and, hopefully, shorten the time needed to bring conclusions, make decisions, or discuss topics of importance. And last, we might just get to know each other a little better when we choose to set the phones aside.
Here is your challenge for July: set a box or basket in the middle of the conference table and declare this month a “No Cell Zone” during meetings. Let us know if this produces more engaging interactions before and during your meetings. And promise all attendees you’ll end the session 5 minutes early so everyone can check their texts, peek at social media, get their dopamine rush.