“Hey, Wayne, I got a few minutes while I am in the car…”
How many of you have received a call that started that way? How many of you have called someone and after “hello” said that line?
Or, how many of you:
- Have received a text that started “Hey, just a quick…”?
- Have texted someone and used that line?
- While at work, have sent or received an IM from the person one aisle away?
- …an email with a one-line question, from the person that sits diagonal to you?
- Sent / received a text from a family member in the next room?
Whether in our personal lives, and now, to some extent, our business lives, we have learned to “fast path” our communications. There are times where I am guilty of this. I have worked hard to put away my electronic devices. I rarely ever bring my phone to a meeting (unless there is an issue at home) - I no longer answer every ding, sound effect or related “you’ve got mail” indicators. I am striving at work to answer emails at certain points in the day. By checking these types of communications whenever they pop up, we are distracted from what our focus should be. In meetings, I know that when the phone is more interesting than the meeting – it is over.
Of course, the corollary question is have we lost the ability to communicate face-to-face? Are we learning from the millennials and our own children? They spend a significant amount of time on their devices. They can game and communicate. They have free video apps to see their friends. I remember years ago, I walked into the living and there was my daughter was doing her homework on her laptop. She was busy typing on the computer and typing on her phone and there were at least three people in tiny boxes on her laptop, no one was talking. They were, she explained to me, just hanging out.
The most extreme case of “my-cell-phone-is more-important” syndrome was recently in the subway. She was in the hallway, underground, her large suitcase tipped over on its back. In her hand was her cell phone talking to someone. The suitcase was large enough that she needed two hands to put it right side up. She did not stop talking on the phone, nor did she put it down (or in her pocket). Struggle as she did, the phone was most important.
With the holiday season upon us, this is the time of year we generally spend with our family and friends. A time of the year where we should be living in the moment; to take in all of the sights, sounds and excitement of our respective holidays. Let us each make a commitment to put down our cell phones, turn off the ringers and ignore the clarion call of our phones. Let us all live in the moment, spend time together and enjoy each other face to face.