I was in a meeting last week and saw on my iPhone a photo of a wedding I attended five years ago to the day. The image was striking. It was showing this incredible coastal view of Positano, Italy. It was taken at one of those destination weddings where the couple ask guests the impossible: travel 4,413 miles from New Jersey to Ravello, Italy, and attend martial vows (in Italian).
Well we packed the family and had the best time of our lives at one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended. I am happy to report that Dominick and Jessica are still married.
The image appeared on my phone while I was in the middle of a meeting with a long-time client. The client is a friend and a well-traveled businessman, and he runs a business that is more than nine digits in value. The client looked at me as I glanced at my phone and commented on the wedding.
The chairman of the board turned to me and said, very curtly, I am paying you for your full attention, and please put the phone away. Two quick thoughts entered my head – WOW, and to hell with Dominick.
It made me think about how many of us use, abuse, and watch our phones while we are engaged in other activities. I don’t have to look very far in a meeting where most of the gathered masses are huddled looking at their cell phones. Which give?
It’s boring having a meeting, social or otherwise, and you get one or two hyper-focused individuals, a few others half-engaged and half-browsing their social networks and emails.
The worst offenders? The politicians.
I can’t tell you how many committee meetings or political events I’ve been to and seen the star politician stick around and furiously texting.
It’s a sight to see when state lawmakers, at a hearing, are busy texting or emailing or applying for a home refinance loan (seen on a Senate committee). The worst part is when you attend a social event and an elected official is talking to you while looking at their cell phone. This amount of rude behavior exceeds even the old school bad behavior of shaking hands with one person while immediately striking up a conversation with the next person, because you always have someone else’s warm hand in your hand. your. Six degrees of rudeness.
People are looking for the genuine and the real. The process of trying to multitask and engage audiences at the same time undermines the ability to build relationships or connect. I often talk about building connective tissue with your team and with the audience. This is difficult to do if you are not even present at a distance while you follow the movements of a conversation.
We should all think about parking cell phones when we are busy engaging the public or others. COVID has taken us so far from the rest of society in the past fifteen months. If we continue to put these artificial texting and media skimming barriers in place while doing something more traditional, something will give way.
I say let’s drop these gadgets and start a real conversation.
Looking forward to that next destination wedding, Matt, it’s time to step up.