Stack Your Phones at the Next Company Meeting

by Jennifer Miller on January 17, 2012

in Business Management, Communication, Personal Effectiveness

There’s a new game making the rounds these days called Phone Stack. Have you played it? The basic gist is this—when you dine out with friends, everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table and then embarks on a huge game of chicken— who  can resist the siren call of their phone for the longest time? The stakes are fairly high: the first person to take a call agrees to pick up the tab for the whole group.

 

Reporting on this game, the blog GetKempt says, “It’s a buzzing, flashing reminder of every phone-etiquette rule the world seems to have forgotten.”

I like it. A lot. In fact, I think we should kick it up a notch and play Phone Stack at our next company meeting. It’ll be like an intervention to see who’s the most addicted to their mobile device.

If I were to suggest this process (we’re in business, we don’t do “games”, right?) at a meeting, the outcry would be fierce:

“I’m expecting an important call.”

“I just need to sign off on this P.O. Accounting is emailing it to me any minute now.”

“My customers expect me to be available”.

“Who do you think you are?!”

There is truly very little that can’t wait. Most of the “emergencies” in our business lives are urgent because we allow them to be. When people are constantly checking their phones, it feeds the urgency, creating a vicious cycle. Every time a phone buzzes or someone glances down at their lap (do you think we can’t see that?!) it disrupts the flow of the meeting. It sends the message “What’s happening outside this meeting is more important than the topic of the meeting I’m in.”

“But wait!” you say, “What’s going on outside this meeting room IS more important.”

Well, you’re not alone in that opinion. According an infographic published by SocialCast, 71% of employees in the U.S. feel that most meetings are a waste of time.

Feeling vindicated? Hold on a minute. . .

Consider this: When you attend a meeting and fake your attention, you’re contributing to that statistic. Your attendance at a meeting doesn’t mean you’ve met the mark. It’s your participation that counts.

As I see it, if you think that meeting will be a huge waste of time, you have two choices:

A)    Put on your Big Kid Pants and accept that you need to be at this meeting, and you will give your 100% full attention.

B)    Prior to the meeting, find a way to speak up and suggest to the meeting planner in a professional manner that perhaps there’s a better way than conducting a face-to-face meeting.

Anything less is just contributing to the problem.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to have the offender “pick up the tab” at the meeting, we’d be all set . . .

 

 Photo credit: istockphoto.com © sndr

 

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug Shaw February 1, 2012 at 11:54 am

Love it! What a splendid idea. I often find myself waiting for various rude folk to stop playing with phones, aaggghhh – drives me quite nuts.

You’ve reminded me, a few years ago I was invited to a meeting with my then Chief Operations Officer and a few other senior bods. One of them kept fiddling with his phone and I just stood silently, and waited for several minutes until he stopped. He became aware of the silence in the room, ‘what are you waiting for?’ he snapped at me. ‘For you to pay attention’ I replied. ‘I’m your guest, you invited me here.’ He turned to his boss, the COO and complained about my attitude. ‘Doug’s got a point’ came the reply. We carried on.

Either be there and be present, or be wherever else you need to be.

Thanks for writing this – I found it via Carnival of HR over at Tribe HR just so ya know :)

Jennifer February 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Doug,

Hi there!

“Either be there and be present, or be wherever else you need to be” – an excellent quote!

I commend you for standing up to the arrogant senior manager; that took courage. Thank goodness the COO also had the guts to back you up. That doesn’t always happen.

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