will you please turn off your phone while we eat lunch?”
Over the years, I have asked several colleagues to turn off their devices while we enjoy a meal or brainstorm session together.And it makes many of them feel uncomfortable, if not naked.
Here is why I do it: It is downright disrespectfuland intrusive for business colleagues to regularly glance at their phones while we attempt meaningful conversation. In my newest book, I refer to this trend as the Digital Intrusion Movement, or DIM.
Many of us feel as if we owe this mobile device our undivided attention. Sometimes, we even give it a seat at the dinner table. Here are a few indicators that you may be headed to a DIM place:
- Our health and vitality take a back seat to 24 hour access.Think about the myriad professionals who encourage more technology usage to drive speed of execution and access. They have lost the ability to distinguish between being “responsive” with being “always available.” In a previous post, I mentioned how Arianna Huffington has chosen to remove all electronic devices from her bedroom—and HuffingtonPost continues to thrive without her during her sleeping hours.
- We take communications shortcuts. These behaviors open the door to misunderstandings and malevolence. Think of the ludicrous acronyms that have infiltrated our electronic conversations—ostensibly designed to save time writing. Terms that did not exist ten years ago include IMHO (In My Humble Opinion); LOL (Laugh out Loud), and TTFN (Ta-ta for now!)
When we constantly use these insipid acronyms, we are telling the recipient that we simply do not have time for a real discussion, let alone proper use of our language.
- We take pride in multitasking. A University of London study showed that constant texting and multi-tasking lowers our mental capacity. In fact, women’s IQ’s decline by 5 points, and men’s drop by 15. In my book, I outline several other studies that showcase other negative effects.
- We fall prey to the online herd mentality. CMOs often tell me sad tales of their six-figure forays into social media and big data initiatives, only to report that they have little to show for their efforts. In lieu of scheduling more time actually talkingto customers, they are spending time learning how to use LinkedIn’s advanced features. This type of activity only guarantees one thing: that you will have more people randomly endorsing and liking you.
In the long run, your customers and stakeholders get short-changed when you are going DIM.
Thankfully, I am encouraged by the leaders who are looking for ways to restore harmony in our digital lives. LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, encourages walking outdoors for his meetings. Stuart Foster, VP of Global Marketing for Hilton Luxury Brands, schedules regular “Days of Learning” with his teams. They turn off all mobile devices, share new ideas, and participate in workshops.Padmasree Warrior, Cisco Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, meditates daily, and dedicates her weekends to haiku and painting.
What are you doing tomaintain or restore digital harmony in your organization? Share your comments here.
P.S. Thank you for turning off your phone while reading this post.