When Using a Smart Phone Isn’t Very Smart

Once I was at a business dinner with the CEO of a company I was working for and during our meal, I  fully expected him to answer any cell phone calls, emails or texts. He’s important right? But when we sat down, he put his phone on vibrate and said that there may be one urgent call that he is is expecting from a client that he would have to respond to, but that would be the only exception. Really?? Of course we understood and although other calls and texts came through, he kept his promise and gave us his full attention. I really felt that he considered our conversation to be valuable and I learned a lot from that experience about perceptions and how a successful, powerful businessman was able to manage the use of his smart phone with the consideration of others. This seems to be a rare occurrence these days.

Another CEO I worked for would frequently stop in the middle of any meeting to answer phone calls from “snookie” his wife to  help her to find the screw driver in the kitchen drawer or to text his daughter about a school project while the rest of us had to sit patiently for 5-10 minutes while he finished his communication. Imagine how he was perceived in the organization.

It happens all the time now. Ivan Misner, Networking Entrepreneur, stirred up a lot of response to his recent blog post “Don’t Make This Mistake at Your Next Networking Event” http://ow.ly/3JOU6  referencing this topic and I completely agree! I teach marketing for a local college and I have to educate my students on proper business etiquette yet in the real business world, people are so focused on their smart phones that they forget about common courtesy when attending business meetings, engaging in networking activities, or simply having lunch with a co-worker. Does everyone have to be available 24/7 like the local Walmart? What kind of message are you sending when you can’t hold a meeting without constantly checking your email or text  messages?

Think of my example above. Which CEO do you think garners more respect from his clients, colleagues, and employees? Does that equate into business value? I would say yes!!! Value  in the form of referrals – who would you rather refer business to?, employee loyalty – who would you rather work for? and team unity – who would you rather work with?.

A smart phone is a business TOOL, not a necessity. Use it wisely and you will see long-term business benefits.


  • jason

    Great article! I couldn’t agree more. The first thing I do when I sit down at a client meeting is take out my phone and put the phone on silent … then back into the pocket it goes. I didn’t win the opportunity to answer my phone in a potential client’s office … I won the opportunity to SERVE a new client, and I treat it as such.

    If I’m meeting with a new vendor, and that vendor takes a call in the middle of our meeting … bye-bye vendor! There are other people who actually want my business and will treat me with the same respect that I give to my clients.

    It’s time we take back courteous and civil human interactions in this country … it’s been too long!

  • Bobbi

    Thanks for addressing this. Definitely a pet peeve of mine – whether the violator is a friend, colleague or CEO.

    Additionally, why interupt a meeting to pick up a call just to say “I can’t talk right now.”. Isn’t that what voicemail is for?

    I hope that your message gets out and people get back to common sense and courtesy.

  • Lindsay

    Excellent post! I completely agree.

    “I really felt that he considered our conversation to be valuable…”

    I think that’s the whole point right there. It shows disrespect to the other party’s time if you’re constantly checking your phone. Thanks for addressing this topic!

  • Ron Cooper

    Excellent post! The sad thing is that so many people do not think using their at any and all times is wrong.

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