Gone are the days when people used to chat, eat and relax with friends without the ring of a cell phone interrupting the conversation. Nowadays it is common to find people in a meeting with their mobile phones on, forcing facilitators to create meeting norms before diving into the main content. The common norms that are always on the list are mobile phones off, switching to silent mode or switching to vibration mode depending on the participants. As per my own findings, The current surprising revelation is that on the the list of meeting norms it’s more common to find no use of a mobile phone than no smoking.
The reason being, for smoking there have been remarkable efforts towards sensitization in private and public domains and people are aware. When I was young a child, a friend visiting our home for the first time could either ask for picture albums, stare at the pictures on the walls, read a book or magazines and lastly wait patiently with either their arms or legs crossed for further instructions or conversation. In today’s age, with the wide spread of technology especial mobile phones, it’s rare to find someone seated thoughtful doing nothing especially if they have a mobile phone in their palm. A large number of youths are fond of the habit of using their phone ‘AA’(Anytime & Anywhere ) which they don’t realize might be costly either not get clear information or missing an opportunity of getting hired especially if you are attending an interview etc.
In a conversation, either formal or informal it is key to concentrate and listen more than you speak, but how can you do that if your concentration is spread too thin by using a computer or mobile phone during the meeting? Technology isn’t bad, thus exploring it to the maximum is a good thing. The only worrying trend is how we have administered it that has loosened the social fabric to the extent that people relate more to gadgets than their peers. If this isn’t enough, have you ever sat with a friend chatting but instead of them listening to you with eye contact, which suggests a high level of concentration, their eyes are glued to their cell phones not for business purposes but on social network site chatting with an online friend.
The worst instances are when a person is either playing games or using the social network while in a meeting, having food with a group or alone. Last year while in Germany I met a friend who invited us to his home in the Netherlands. Apart from his generosity was his use of a phrase that has stuck in my mind “No Mail Meals!” which meant that there was a time for everything. In his words, you shouldn’t be emailing or using a computer while having a meal; you need to concentrate on enjoying the good taste of the food, and if with friends it is of value to concentrate on them rather than on a computer of mobile phone. I know of a family which switches off the television while having a meal .
So think deeply about this on how it can contribute to an effective family, team, or company to not abuse technology at the expense of interacting with people. Next time you are in a social place like a hotel, restaurant or church, observe keenly the trends on how people abuse technology at the expense of having a relaxed day out with friends or listening to lectures. Add your workplace, or if you are going to attend any formal meeting or workshops, open your eyes wider to capture the culprits.
My message to everyone out there is to embrace technology but not at the expense of human interaction when it is convenient. If this is not well balanced we are heading into a World of more interaction with machines than with real people.
“To solve the World’s problem we need more of human interaction while embracing technology”. Wilsenx