asshole apology

“She said things and I nodded. I didn’t pay attention. She didn’t pay attention to me. We floated through our days in that way.”




Frederick Barthelme





“We floated through our days that way” … yikes … floated through meetings in other words. Suffice it to say … in general … anyone using any personal technology in a meeting is aggravating <and rude>.


That seems common knowledge and common sense.


In fact … research continuously reflects that using personal technology <insert any type you would like in here> in meetings is one of the most common workplace complaints.



It continues.


I thought about this when I saw some research from USC’s Marshall School of Business.


The net?

People don’t like it.


Older people don’t like it even more <if you work with women and people over forty they’re even more aggravated by it than everyone else>.


The researchers conducted a nationwide survey of full-time working professionals and asked a variety of questions about personal technology use during meetings and found:



–          86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during meetings

annoy me game

–          84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during meetings


–          66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails even during lunches offsite


–          The more money people make the less they approve of personal technology use.



The study also found that young business employees are more likely than those over 40 to think that personal technology use during meetings is okay.



But their bosses <older folk> hate it the most.




Research aside … well … shit … we all know how it looks when you take out your phone in a meeting:



–          lack of respect.

Whatever is on your phone must be more important than the conversation at hand.


And everyone and everything outside  the people in the meeting must be more important. Basically you have just looked at everyone else in the room and said ‘you are fucking sorry losers.’



–          lack of attention.

In other words … you are bored.

Attention is always tied to interest <albeit we rarely point that out>. If you are using personal technology you are showing whatever is on it has to be a shitload more interesting than whatever is going on around you. you pay attention to what interests you the most. You have basically looked around the room <without yawning> and said ‘you are not interesting.’




–          lack of <active> listening.

Look. Most of us are fairly good at passive listening. So I cannot suggest that by simply using the technology at hand means you aren’t listening. But research does show that active listening tends to embed the information more distinctly into your brain <see ‘memory’ or ‘things you actually fucking remember’>.

This means lack of active listening actually cheats you. Beyond the fact it is absolutely fucking rude, more importantly, you are cheating yourself the opportunity to actually learn something. Worse? You may have to double down timewise in the future because key information didn’t embed and that means you can’t access it when you may actually need it. Basically you have turned to yourself and said “I am an idiot” <and everyone heard your self thought>.


asshole day


–          lack of self-awareness.


You just look fucking ridiculous and self-important.

Basically … everyone in the room looks at you saying “asshole.”





I can’t say I’m surprised by the USC study’s findings but that doesn’t mean I like it anymore.


I will get back to the respect issue but I will begin with what I believe is the bigger issue.



A lack of understanding that investing some time & energy NOW can actually save you time & energy LATER.




This is simply a skill we do not seem to teach, nor value, any more.


It is a derivative of instant gratification … it is something like ‘instantly trying to prove value.’ And we not only teach this skill in business … we encourage it.

For some reason we seem to encourage a belief that ‘value’ is increased if it is done within the present moment. We encourage the belief  that quantity <doing more … or looking like you have done multiple things> in an instant has a higher value than ‘quality’ within a moment.


The whole concept of ‘ability to multi task’ <which isn’t really multi tasking because you have to ignore one thing to focus on another … you are actually fuckery what is thisserial tasking> is how many people are justifying their value – personally and in business.



This is fucking crazy.




Blaming technology.


This includes the ludicrous ‘leave your phone in the container at the door and pick it up on the way out” work in the business model.




So I truly believe removing the symptom will solve the problem?


How fucking stupid is that? <pretty stupid>


I know it is always tempting when there are new technologies and innovations to focus on the perceived negative changes. Whether one generation is shaking their heads over the next wasting time chattering on that new-fangled telephone or some rigged-out computer that fits in the palm of your hand or even the most basic worrying about the influence of TV on their kids.


But technology doesn’t control people … people control technology.

It seems like people have forgotten it is a choice you make.


Bottom line.

It’s not the medium that matters the most, but the people who use it.


Technology is too much of an easy scapegoat.

Focus on the people.


“Who doesn’t want to know that we notice them and value them? And who might respond to us better when they feel that they matter? It probably cannot be overstated – it matters…that people matter.”


Steve Goodier

This means <some common sense here> is part of being in a successful business environment is that people are important.


And that means … even more important than getting shit done.


And this leads me to an organizational culture and sending the message of what is valued most in an organization.


If you build a culture where getting shit down has a higher priority, and higher value, than the people in the organization … well … you will always have a shitload of people pulling out technology in meetings.


I say this because personal technology in meetings is a bigger issue than self-importance and rudeness. It begins at the top … top as in culture of the place you work.


And I don’t think leaders think about this business shit.


Maybe because most are old and cranky.




I started little <a phone in a meeting> and ended big <organizational culture>.


I did so because sometimes what looks little in business is often a reflection of something bigger that needs to be addressed.phones at meetings marlenewhitecourt


If there are people in your business constantly yanking personal technology out in meetings don’t set up some stupid fucking rule about ‘no technology in meetings’ … start setting up rules on how people are valued over getting shit done.


I can’t believe I just suggested setting up rules on how to treat people but that is the wacky world we live in.


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Written by Bruce