A professor of business surveyed more than 9000 managers and workers and found a familiar paradox: Nearly everyone considers email checking and texting during face-to-face meetings rude, but most people still do it. She suggests more meeting breaks to fix the problem.
Photo by ilamont.com.
In a longer piece about the nature of "incivility" and how younger workers' familiarity with electronics fosters it in the workplace, Christine Pearson examines how many managers and co-workers deal every day with digital rudeness. Emails or IMs that shouldn't stand in for personal contact, talking on mobile phones in earshot of coworkers, and checking texts or emails during meetings happens every day, but such situations are allowed to slip because their root causes aren't addressed.
One thing to consider is asking for more breaks during long meetings with full mobile phone access, but firmly disallowing the devices during the actual talking portions. The seeming compulsion to use such devices, after all, often stems from wanting to take a break from face time.
Through our devices, we find a way to disappear without leaving the room. By splitting ourselves off and reaching out electronically, we fill empty interpersonal space and ignite our senses. We can find relief and a fleeting sense of freedom.
Decades ago, the sociologist Barry Schwartz commended the group-preserving functions of dissociating. Everyone, he said, reaches a threshold beyond which working with others is irritating, even unendurable.
Finding a mental escape can help us deal with the problem. But electronic devices have led to a serious overuse of this strategy - to the detriment of everyone.
What's the worst e-behaviour your coworkers pull on a daily basis? What bad electronic habits can't you break yourself away from?
Texting in Meetings - It Means ‘I Don't Care' [NYTimes.com]