Put Your Phone Away

Put Your Phone Away

Put Your Phone Away at the Meeting and during Networking

We are a nation of smartphone addicts. Research from King’s College London and reported on the BBC’s website in November 2019 explained that almost a quarter of young people are “so dependent on their smartphones that it becomes like an addiction.” It’s easy to suppose that we can tone down our bad smartphone habits during working hours, but the opposite appears to be true and it’s having many negative effects. You just cannot seem to put your phone away.

Nowhere do these habits affect young and emerging professionals more than in the office meeting room, and during networking events. If you are aspiring to rise through the ranks of your corporate structure, then these times are the perfect opportunity to show your creativity and positive work attitude. You might not have realised this yet but your connection to that pocket device might be hurting those chances every time you enter the room.

Meetings Should be Smartphone Free

Think back to the last meeting you attended. We’ll assume that you’re a diligent and dedicated professional so you’ve probably arrived a few minutes early. You sat down at your seat, and you were waiting for the meeting to start. There were a few others there already, too. After taking your seat, and probably like your colleagues, you took out your smartphone to check your messages, Facebook feed, Instagram or Linkedin.

Does that sound familiar? What happened as the meeting started? Did you put your phone back into your pocket and out of sight? Or did you close the screen and put it down on the table? Perhaps you thought you were being polite when you put it face down on the table, thinking you were demonstrating your commitment and your full attention to meeting proceedings. As the meeting went on, did it make a noise or vibration? If so, did you look to see what it was? You may have turned the handset over, seen it was nothing, dismissed the notification and then put the phone back. Harmless, right?

Research from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California says otherwise. Of the 554 senior professionals interviewed by researchers, 75 percent said that they believed it inappropriate to read texts or emails during formal meetings. The numbers get worse for writing messages or taking calls during meetings (even if you step outside). More than 1 in 5 of the participants also agreed that smartphones should not be allowed in any meetings at all, formal or otherwise.

Networking is About Connecting with People, Not Your Screen

The second area where smartphones are a detriment is at networking events. As a young and aspirational professional, networking events are a chance to connect with your peers, as well as more senior executives who might want to work with you on more equal footing in the future. Despite this, a growing number of people seem to use time at these events to simply stare at their phone screen.

It could be that people have become increasingly shy and are in need of something to distract them when they don’t have someone to talk to. In fact, burying your face in your phone sends a signal to others that you are not open for conversation. Try to resist the “safety blanket” of your smartphone at these events, remaining open and ready to engage with your fellow professionals.

Why Smartphones Should Be Left in the Pocket

Whether it’s for meetings or networking events, there are many good reasons to put your smartphone away and leave it out of sight, and hopefully out of mind. It may take some training, but it’s important to take steps to overcome any compulsion you have to check the phone or have it in a visible spot.

1. Missed Communication Opportunities

In meetings, for example, the time before a meeting should be spent connecting with your colleagues and team members. Working more cohesively as a team requires you to build meaningful and genuine professional relationships. The times before meetings where you can share thoughts and ideas with others are golden chances to talk, share and possibly get that nugget of constructive feedback that turns a vague notion into a solid idea.

It’s the same at networking events. You’ll never know what kind of great opportunity passes you by when a senior executive attending the event thinks to find someone to talk to but is confronted with the sight of your face buried in a screen.

2. Projecting Weakness

If meetings and networking events are a chance to shine, then the things you should be showing are your strength, courage, leadership, creativity and more. Being at the beck and call of your smartphone does not help project these qualities. Imagine considering someone for a more senior role who gives up on his/her attention on an important meeting or event in order to see why their phone is vibrating? Unless you have some explicit reason to be checking the phone that your managers know about and support, you really have no reason at all to have the phone out during a meeting.

3. Divided Attention

If you’ve ever tried to work at the same time as having an argument with someone on Twitter or Facebook, then you’ll know that the two are a toxic pairing. The fact is that smartphones are incredible distracting, and frankly destructive when it comes to your productivity. Even placing it face down on the table is leaving yourself open to distraction. The best policy will always be to leave it behind on your desk before a meeting, and absolutely out of sight (and vibration feel range) before an event.

With no devices in sight, your full attention is noticed by your supervisors, especially when others may not be following your example. You’ll be more engaged, and over time you’ll start to feel glad that you don’t have the phone with you. Let the work of the meeting or the networking event take front and centre position in your mind.

4. Unwelcome Interruptions

If you, a colleague or a manager are doing a presentation during a meeting, then even the “silent” vibration of your phone on the table or in your pocket creates a most unwelcome interruption. You might think nothing of it, but the effect is noticeable to everyone around you. That’s the truth when your phone is on vibrate, so imagine how detrimental it is if you’ve left the sound on!

Let’s say that working your way up to an executive decision is about consistently making good impressions with those above you, and actively making contributions to meetings and events. Those interruptions from your smartphone are not only not contributing to that goal, but are actively taking away from it.

5. Feeding Your Addiction

Smartphones and the countless apps and functions that we place upon them are feeding that addictive nature that’s within all of us. The compulsion to check our phones has become second nature, and we should be actively looking for ways to shake off that dependent feeling. Your workday is actually a great way to do this.

A workday, with its meetings and possible subsequent networking events, provides you with the perfect situation in which to lose yourself in other things. Focusing your attention and energy on meetings, brainstorming ideas without the help of Google, and lifting up your head to see all the great people who are around you ready to talk may just be what you need to help diminish or break that compulsion. They may also be your ticket to an executive position sooner rather than later in your career.

Look Upwards and Outwards

The smartphone and its negative pull on your imagination represent the wrong trajectory of your life and career. As you spend more and more time looking downward and inward at your screen, you are closing yourself off from the advancement opportunities that are all around you.

Take the time to not just put the phone down, but put it firmly away. Take time each day to restore your mind to phone-free mode, and over time you’ll steadily be able to do without the comfort and security that your phone brings to you in meetings and at networking events. In the long term, there’s nothing but benefit to reap from this approach.

Show respect to your colleagues and bosses; open yourself up to dialogue with your colleagues and potential new connections; shake off the shackles that an increasing addiction and dependence on your smartphone is locking around you every day. We are confident that you’ll never regret leaving the phone out of the way in future.

At Syzygy Careers, we are passionate about careers. Contact us today more information. Follow us on Linkedin and Youtube.

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