Is Your Cell Phone Damaging Your Career?


Being more present, and disconnecting from the cell phone has been on my mind a lot lately.

This feeling may be the result of my new habit of going to candlelight yoga on Thursday evenings, the realization that my grandkids are growing up right before my eyes, or an image of  the “Super Bowl Selfie Kid” that I just can’t shake. 

Here are the top 3 reasons you may want to rethink your cell phone strategy:

1. Nothing says “I’m more important than you are” like looking at your phone when someone is talking. 

When people are checking their phone while you are talking during a meeting, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  Was it…

  • Joan isn’t paying attention to what I’m saying.

  • I’ll bet Sue and Mark are texting about why they don’t agree with me.

  • Bob thinks he so much more important than anyone else in the room.

Texting during a meeting, especially to other people in the room, is rude. It creates the impression that you are a member of a corporate clique (think “mean girls” in high-school). It’s equal to whispering in the back of the room. People will believe that you are having a side conversation with an ally, and chances are… they will be right. Let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely that the spirit of the text exchange is to gather additional information or to trying to understand an opposing opinion.

Here’s what probably didn’t show up on your list:

  • Jennifer is really interested in my ideas for the project.

  • I’m so glad John is here, he’s really helping to move this conversation toward a solution.

  • I’d like to get to know Karen better.

 2. You are seen as tactical, not strategic.

The impulse to check things off of the “to do” list, answer an email, respond to a question quickly, or yes… check Facebook, are small tactical actions. We tell ourselves that we getting things done, using our time efficiently, and staying connected. 

Here’s what we aren’t doing:

  • Learning and retaining new information

  • Reading the room

  • Building relationships

  • Formulating a strategic response

In addition to having a hard time recalling the conversation later, cell phone watchers typically don’t  add much value to a discussion. 

3. You’ll miss the good stuff.

Enter the “Super Bowl Selfie Kid”.

During the half-time show at the super bowl last year, Justin Timberlake ran into the stands and grabbed Ryan McKenna during his performance. What?!?!? That’s the stuff dreams are made of for a 13-year old kid!

What did he spend his 2 minutes of “Oh my gosh… I can’t believe this is happening” fame? Fiddling with his phone trying to take a selfie. 

In this rushed and hyper-connected world we live in, one of the biggest compliments you can give someone is to engage in the moment. 

Consider leaving your cell phone behind for your next  meeting, outing to the park with your kids, or dinner with someone special. 

Don’t miss your chance to dance, dance, dance.