Etiquette of using your smartphone in a meeting

June 21st, 2009

The New York Times has an article on the etiquette of using your smart phone in meetings, At Meetings, It’s Mind Your BlackBerry or Mind Your Manners.

“As Web-enabled smartphones have become standard on the belts and in the totes of executives, people in meetings are increasingly caving in to temptation to check e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, even (shhh!) But a spirited debate about etiquette has broken out. Traditionalists say the use of BlackBerrys and iPhones in meetings is as gauche as ordering out for pizza. Techno-evangelists insist that to ignore real-time text messages in a need-it-yesterday world is to invite peril.”

Professors have been dealing with this for several years, since most of our students come to class with their laptops. Maybe they are taking notes. But why is he smiling? Now he’s laughing! Was my comment on hill climbing really that funny?

Of course, the dynamics of this is different outside the classroom.

“In many professional circles, where connections are power, making a show of reaching out to those connections even as co-workers are presenting a spreadsheet presentation seems to have become a kind of workplace boast. Mr. Brotherton, the consultant, wrote in an e-mail message that it was customary now for professionals to lay BlackBerrys or iPhones on a conference table before a meeting — like gunfighters placing their Colt revolvers on the card tables in a saloon. “It’s a not-so-subtle way of signaling ‘I’m connected. I’m busy. I’m important. And if this meeting doesn’t hold my interest, I’ve got 10 other things I can do instead.’ ”