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