I am guessing that this post will not be popular…..
I had a coffee shop meeting today. I was waiting for the other person to arrive and sipping my almond latte. At the table next to me sat two women. They were obviously friends or colleagues who knew each other fairly well.
A cell phone rang and this is what I heard:
- Woman A: "Let me see who that is."
- Woman B: Sitting….
- Woman A: "Oh, excuse me." Answers the phone. Chats with the person about restaurant plans and choices. At the end of the phone conversations, she says she will call him or her in a couple hours.
- Woman B: Sitting….
- Then Woman A gets off the phone and proceeds to talk about her plans with this person.
Here’s my problem. First, when she said she needed to see who is was, she was really saying to Woman B is that while not everyone is more important you, some people are more important. Then she communicated that THIS person IS more important to me than you. Then she talked to this person who was obviously available to chat in a couple hours, which means the conversation did not need to occur at that time.
And lastly, instead of getting back to the conversation that they were having before the phone rang, Woman A continued to make this all about her by shifting the conversation to her dinner plans.
As friends and colleagues, many of us are polite when this happens. The phone rings, the other person gets it and we say, "no problem." This is a daily scenario repeated millions of times.
Unless you are the President (of a country), an on call neurosurgeon, or the only person with nuclear launch codes, you do not need to answer the phone. If you are talking with someone in person, it is rude and inconsiderate to interrupt that conversation. In addition, doing both things is pretty close to multitasking, which we know is not an effective way to use time.
I invite you to make your case if you think your situation is so unusual that you should answer every cell phone call that comes through.
We go presentations, we turn the phone off.
We go to meetings, we turn the phone off (we should).
The most important person is the one sitting across from you. Give him or her your undivided attention. Demand the same from others.
Another thing while I am ranting about cell phones. Do you have any idea how LOUD some of you talk on cell phones! "I THINK I AM GOING TO GET THE LEXUS. I LIKE THE BUICK, BUT THE LEXUS MAKES ME FEEL MORE IMPORTANT." This is noise pollution. When I am in a coffee shop, on a bus, in a restaurant, or on the plane (before and after take off) I don’t want to be subjected to your verbal noise pollution. And you know what? The conversations are never about matters of national security or life and death. It’s stupid stuff that can wait. So let it wait. Why disturb another person so that you can discuss restaurants or get caught up on the daily goings ons?