Why Do People Think It’s Okay To Text During Meetings?

texting during a meeting

This one really gets me going at work. It annoys me in a social setting to see someone either not participating or blatantly zoning out mid conversation to check their iPhone. But when it comes to work, it’s downright infuriating.

You know who they are. You know who you are.

It’s after lunch and you’re sitting through a meeting on inventory, or a webinar on a new technical report, or maybe it’s a mandatory training for you to get signed off on. Either way, you’re there and so is everyone else that you work with. Most of us don’t care to be there, but we know that we were tasked to be there for a reason, so it’s probably somewhat important to our job. Maybe it’s not.

Since this sort of behavior is as distracting as it is annoying, I’ve come to become a study of the different species of meeting texters. Pretend I’m Jeff Corwin and let’s go on safari, shall we?

The Pretender

This individual is an interesting one. Their timidness (or cowardice) to actually be openly browsing Twitter on their phones, does not outweigh their idea work ethic and practices. So, rather than pay attention and sit through a meeting like everyone else who cares about their job, they secretly try to use their phone. They actually believe their boss or coworkers aren’t privy to their tweets. YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY.

Do you actually think looking down at your crotch while your right hand is twitching and convulsing rapidly looks like normal behavior? Do you even think staring at your own genital region alone is what everyone else is doing too? Seriously, the next time you give a presentation or sit at a place at the conference table so you can see everyone else, just look for how many faces are pointed in a similar direction. The only time you’ll look normal is if someone asks everyone to do a calculation on their smartphones. I work in the science field and that’s never happened. Ever.

I do enjoy those who try to take their little deception to another level by pretending to take notes while texting on their phones under the table. This is also a clearly fake and terrible way to disguise your stupid behavior. Why? Because anybody actually taking notes, or your boss whom you’re trying to impress while simultaneously deceive, knows what’s worth writing down and what isn’t. In fact, a word of advice would be to not do it at all. Why? Because…

1.) Once you start, you’ll think its genius and keep doing it more and more throughout the meeting, not actually paying attention to the material.

2.) The more you are looking up and looking back down, the more attention you’re drawing to yourself.

3.) The more attention you draw, the more your boss thinks “Why the hell is she writing so much down? Is this shit actually news to her?”. Yeah, so now you don’t just look distracted, you look incompetent. Coupled with the next point, you’re probably not making the next layoff..

4.) Your goddamn screen makes your face glow and we can all hear you hit the Home button. Didn’t think of that one did you? Clear giveaway in today’s age of 19″ LED high definition screens. If you never thought about this until now. Good job, bright eyes. ¬†Oh and for people with glasses, I can pretty much read your Twitter feed off of them from across the table.

The Unabashed

These are usually in the form of management or over enthusiastic supervisors who allow themselves to receive emails from their phones. The problem isn’t necessary that they are texting or checking Facebook statuses, but that they are reading and responding to emails when they should be listening to their employees. Nothing inspires motivation than your boss who is clearly not paying attention to you. Nothing boosts morale knowing that what you are telling them is something they’re going to ask you for later, when they weren’t paying attention in the beginning. Nothing deserves respect like someone who is making you feel inferior because they can’t call YOU, the boss, out on it because they are your subordinate.

Unless the email says “WE’RE BANKRUPT.”, you don’t need to read it. Listen to your employees.

The Ringer.

This person can be an Unabashed as well, but they are usually a dimwit. This is the person who thinks “vibrate” is synonymous with “silent”. No, it’s not. Therefore, every 30 seconds, it sounds like you’ve got a vibrator in your pocket that’s clinging to life. Vibrate is what you use when you’re not near anybody or you’re in such a loud environment where a ringer is useless. Otherwise, use silent. And if you actually use a auditory ringtone for your texts throughout a meeting, I’m secretly wishing all sorts of flesh eating viruses upon your family. If you forgot to mute it, and then remedy the situation in embarrassment, you’re okay. We’re all human. If you just leave it on, I hate you.

What’s ironic about this whole article is that the people using their phones means they are distracted. But because they are using the phones and I’m trying to pay attention to everything but them, now I’m distracted. So what it boils down to is that you’re really not being considerate to the people around you, because I really don’t give a rat’s ass how YOU look at the company. I do care if your inability to sit still and concentrate for an hour like an adult affects me and my work. Which it usually does, since these are the people who are usually coming to you with questions or mistakes that would’ve been prevented had they listened. And, if you’re in development like I am in, these distracted participants are actually bringing down your groups productivity and effectiveness because it means one less voice, or one half of one voice while the other half is #hashtagging you toward an unemployment line.

I’m being paid to be there. And so are you. So grow up, be present, and contribute. Some of you are addicted to it, own up to it. If you’re not going to, well then…

Be prepared for me to call you out on it, should you not. The one thing I actually enjoy about this whole thing, and something I encourage everyone to do. Make a stand. When I’m a boss someday, I can’t wait. And yes, I’m bitter. Go tweet it, dumbass.

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