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Check Your Phone During Meetings? Your Boss is Probably Perturbed

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By Travis Bradberry Quartz September 24, 2014

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You are annoying your boss and colleagues any time you take your phone out during meetings, says new research from University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, and if you work with women and people over forty they’re even more perturbed by it than everyone else.

The researchers conducted a nationwide survey of 554 full-time working professionals earning above $30,000 and working in companies with at least 50 employees. They asked a variety of questions about smartphone use during meetings and found:

  • 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during meetings
  • 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during meetings
  • 66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails even during lunches offsite
  • The more money people make the less they approve of smartphone use.

The study also found that Millennials are three times more likely than those over 40 to think that smartphone use during meetings is okay, which is ironic considering Millennials are highly dependent upon the opinions of their older colleagues for career advancement.

TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people worldwide and found that Millennials have the lowest self-awareness in the workplace, making them unlikely to see that their smartphone use in meetings is harming their careers.

Why do so many people—especially successful people—find smartphone use in meetings to be inappropriate? When you take out your phone it shows a:

  • Lack of respect. You consider the information on your phone to be more important than the conversation at hand, and you view people outside of the meeting to be more important than those sitting right in front of you.
  • Lack of attention. You are unable to stay focused on one thing at a time.
  • Lack of listening. You aren’t practicing active listening, so no one around you feels heard.
  • Lack of power. You are like a modern-day Pavlovian dog who responds to the whims of others through the buzz of your phone.
  • Lack of self-awareness: You don’t understand how ridiculous your behavior looks to other people.
  • Lack of social awareness: You don’t understand how your behavior affects those around you.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the USC study’s findings. My company coaches leaders using 360° assessments that compare their self-perception to how everyone else sees them. Smartphone use in meetings is one of the most common coworker complaints.

It’s important to be clear with what you expect of others. If sharing this article with your team doesn’t end smartphone use in meetings, take a page out of the Old West and put a basket by the conference room door with an image of a smart phone and the message, “Leave your guns at the door.”

Reprinted with permission from Quartz. The original story can be found here

(Image via baranq/Shutterstock.com)

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