The sounds of our lives?

Posted by: on Feb 10, 2012 | One Comment

There is  no doubt that smartphones have revolutionised how we live our lives. This is the information age, after all, and the smartphone keeps us plugged in to the information flow wherever we are in the world — we no longer have to wait till we’re back at our desks to read that important email, it’s right there in our hands.

Of course, the flipside can be seen when you peer inside today’s meeting rooms. The number of gadgets has exploded over the last couple of years — no longer is it the case where only laptops are present, but also smartphones, iPads and other such devices — and that also means that the number of distractions and unpleasant electronic sounds and signals which irritate people around the table has also increased.

Looking closer to home, I have recently added a ‘no gadgets’ rule to the executive meetings that I lead.

All of which has led me to think about this question: at what point does our dependence on electronic devices go too far?

Psychologists have a growing concern with smartphone dependence. People are displaying behaviour that shows they would rather interact with their phone than with other human beings. This is naturally a worrying behaviour, but is it too far, and is it really any different to addictive video-gaming?

Perhaps, but it appears too that it is not just an issue for the younger generations. Teens and adults are showing addictive behaviour to their smartphones that in some cases is causing harmful consequences.

Some are minor, such as teens talking in three letter words such as LOL and BRB — although this is more offensive on the ears rather than being anything sinister. Other behaviours are more destructive, however, such as car accidents caused by people texting or looking up information on smartphones. Clearly too far.

There has also been a lot of research into the area of the usage of smartphones, particularly teens’ attachment to their smartphones. The researchers found that when teens were separated from their phones, they were under-stimulated. The indicators were a low heart rate and the inability to entertain themselves.

Another study shows that 47% of teenagers admitted to using their smartphone when in the toilet (only 22% of adults confessed to the same habit). Too far? Probably, and certainly enough to make you think twice before borrowing someone else’s phone to call or text.

But back to the issue of gadgets in executive meetings. A meeting where people are constantly checking messages, emails etc. on their smartphones is not a productive meeting. People need to be present and focus on the ‘here and now’ in the room. Therefore, my personal view — and one that we live by in the meetings that I lead — is that smartphones and other such devices are forbidden. And this works fine when there are enough breaks during the meeting day to allow for people to check messages and or emails.

  • In case you were wondering, these are the rules by which I lead my executive meetings:We start always on time
    No computers / iPads / technical equipment on the table
    No mobile phone on or under the table
    There will be breaks to enable calls and other urgent matters
    One person speaks at a time
    Be present
    Prepare each point well

1 Comment

  1. Murat Yalçın ŞEKER
    February 12, 2012

    Hi, firstly I’d love to have you as a manager 🙂
    Communication I absolutely right. But people got used to smart phones so that the response to requests to be given immediately. If you are not working with your Manager you are an administrator, such as waiting for it.
    Smart phones in our lives so much so that I know a few friend’s phone to reduce the toilet …
    Best Regards.


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