Friday, 15 June 2007

Does this happen to you?

I had a meeting in a hotel lounge area this morning and arrived a few minutes early. While waiting for my contact to arrive I did a bit of people watching. There were a couple of men talking at a nearby table - business men, judging from the suits! One of them took several calls on his mobile phone, saying 'excuse me' each time. His companion started to look a bit fed up after the third call and I don't blame him.

I know one of the benefits of having a mobile phone is that we never have to miss an important call but surely, when we are meeting with real, live people, it is considerate to give them our full attention for the duration of that meeting and let the message service pick up our calls.

If we interrupt face to face meetings to take calls, aren't we giving the other person the impression that they are less important than the caller?

When I meet with people, I make a point of turning my mobile to 'silent' in front of them, while saying that I don't want us to be interrupted. This usually has the effect of prompting the other person to do the same or, on very, very rare occasions, to apologise and explain that they are expecting an urgent call (usually a family emergency).

Genuine urgency is one thing but allowing ourselves to become slaves to a ringing phone is ridiculous! I thought that's why they invented voicemail.

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