It is nearly impossible to imagine surviving in the business world today without our ubiquitous cellular and smart phones. I receive countless business and personal calls daily, along with dozens of e-mails and text messages. I rely on its mapping function to help me locate a local client, restaurant or coffee shop. With so much power and information in the palm of our hands, we often feel that we have all we need to make our daily decisions.
For the sake of discussion, I would like to propose a different perspective.
Lately I have been trying harder to remember that a cell phone is not my own personal deity that I am a slave to,but it is merely a tool for me to use. If I am to be effective either in business or at home, I must control my cell phone use rather than empowering it
to control me.
In light of this, I created my own personal cell phone etiquette to help keep me in line.
The person calling me is NOT more important than the person in front of me.
When I work with someone, I like to look them in the eye. I believe that direct eye contact assists us in building connections, trust and loyalty. When I would answer my cell during a conversation, I felt that it showed that I considered them less worthy as a person. Instead of building trust it would undermine it. Now I simply let my calls go through to voice mail; people can leave me a message and I can get back to them as needed.
I ALWAYS turn off my cell phone when entering a scheduled meeting.
Scheduling half a dozen or more people for a meeting can be a logistical challenge. Just as John is about to be asked about the financial numbers, he steps out to take a call. As John returns to give the numbers, Delores steps out for a call and misses John’s contribution and the important information she actually needs. When the group plays musical chairs with their phones it reduces the effectiveness immeasurably. We owe it to all
stakeholders (and to each other) to treat our meetings seriously and professionally.
My day off is my DAY OFF.
Consider this scenario: An associate is de facto CEO of a local organization and is on call evenings and weekends. When the board hired her, she insisted on one day a week that was completely off. With a husband and two growing children, she needed time with them. During this day, her cell is off and the office knows not to call her home number; nor will
they. She had the foresight as a leader to not consider herself as being irreplaceable, and trusts the staff to handle any problems for the short term. She put her family ahead of work and both are better because of it.
I don’t want to give up my cell phone as I use it for so many important things every day.
Yet I am done with allowing it to dictate how to run my life. Remember when technology was supposed to make our lives better? It can and it does, but only when our behaviors govern when and how we use it, instead of allowing it to control us.