If You’re Thinking of Checking that Blackberry in a Meeting – Don’t!

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We’ve all done it. The meeting is going on and on. Your boss is rambling. You “get” the gist of the concept. You’re bored. Your mind drifts. Hmmm. Wonder what newfound treasure has appeared in my PDA?

 

Who will notice if you sneak a peak?

Your boss will. Others in the meeting will. Don’t do it. You could be committing career suicide. Robert Half & Associates recently conducted a study of 150 senior executives, which showed that 31 percent of them found it inappropriate for employees to check PDAs during meetings. Despite this finding, 86 percent of the senior

executives polled had witnessed people engaging in this behavior.

 

So, if nearly one out of three execs in the study saw that behavior as inappropriate, the odds are against you. And the others in the meeting, who could be future executives or bosses, could also have an impact on your professional future.

 

Behavior in meetings can be career enhancing or career busting. People draw conclusions about other people’s leadership styles, preparedness, communication, and value by how they participate in meetings.

 

So if you want to short cut your career, just pull out that PDA.

 

Why can the quick check of that iPhone be so hurtful?

 

Consider this. We’ve all been in conversations with people who look elsewhere while talking with us. It’s irritating because it appears that they’re looking for someone more important to meet, or just plain aren’t focused on the conversation at hand. It’s rude. Translating this to the sneak check of the Blackberry, we’ve just done the same thing. We’ve taken our focus off the subject at hand effectively insulting the party running the meeting or the person across the table.

 

PDAs are no different from any other new technology, and guidelines as to expectations and usage must be set. The constant access provided by PDAs means that they can easily lead us to become consumed by work during all hours. By not encouraging people to maintain a good worklife balance, productivity suffers, and employees become so involved in responding to messages that they may act in ways that can be career-damaging– and potentially even hazardous. Checking and responding in meetings is not the only PDA career blunder. Here are some others:

• Placing the PDA on the meeting or dining table

• Having sound reminders that go off while in meetings or public events

• Having long sound reminder themes that play loudly – no one needs to hear a full song every time you receive an email

• Reading email while attempting to have a conversation

• Playing videos and other sounds loudly

• Typing while you are walking or driving

 

If you follow a clear set of guidelines, however, PDA technology becomes a powerful ally that can enhance your career:

• Show respect for meeting organizers and avoid annoying your colleagues by turning off your PDA before the meeting starts and keeping it out of sight.

• If you are waiting for an urgent call or email, inform the meeting organizer in advance that you may have excuse yourself for a moment to attend to an urgent matter.

• When in a meeting, having a one-to-one conference, or at a restaurant, do not put the PDA on the table or check it in the middle of a conversation – it gives the impression that the PDA is more important than with the subject at hand.

• When you need to type a message, excuse yourself and find a private place to do it.

• Set the ring tone volume only as high as you absolutely need, and avoid ring themes that are lengthy or annoying.

• Turn all ring tones off when the lights go down whether you’re at the movies, at a concert, or at any other a public event.

• Take control of your PDA, not the other way around. Decide when you are going to turn it off so that you can focus on your family, your hobby, or your spouse – and leave it off.

• Never text while driving. Never check or read email while driving. Never search your address book for contacts while driving. The consequences could be devastating – and not just for you.

 

As with any other tool, when used with appropriate guidelines, PDAs have the potential to increase efficiency and roductivity. But if you’re not careful, the constant connectivity they provide can quickly become all-consuming and career limiting. Managing your career means managing the impressions others have of your abilities and values. Respect for others is a leadership trait that is universally admired.

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About Author

Marsha Egan

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Nantucket, Massachusetts-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.MarshaEgan.com. To see Marsha’s blog, visit www.MarshaEgan.com/blog and to listen to her podcast, “Great Points” visit her iTunes channel.

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