We live in a very device heavy world these days. You understand, we have our smart phones, laptops, iPads, Apple Watches, etc. We are never disconnected from any form of communication anymore. But should we disconnect at times? Especially during meetings?
As I walk into meetings these days, it is amazing at how many people are on their devices. Gone are the days where people have small talk before a meeting; instead we are sending an email, a text, tweeting, etc. Maybe we are checking the weather, the latest news, or the traffic. Some might even try to sneak in a game of solitaire before the meeting. The point is, so many of us are heads down, focusing on our devices instead of focusing on the other humans gathering in the room.
I’ll give everyone the benefit of doubt and assume that we all focus 100% on the meeting during the meeting (but do we really??) However, if you happen to be remote, how much are we able to remain completely attentive? Often times, our attention wains. Since no one can see us check our phones, see the latest score of the game, check our email, etc., we tend to do those things a bit more. And usually at some point, we are caught – someone asks us a question when we are not paying attention, and sheepishly we ask for the question to be repeated.
When did it get so bad? When did we become more interested in our devices than other people? Are we humans not as interesting as our devices? Or are we losing the skill of small talk? Is that really OK? I don’t think so. Relationships are important, and we are losing the chance to build them.
I’m just as guilty as everyone else, I do these things too. So here is my New Year’s resolution: to be more present at meetings. Both in person and on teleconferences. I resolve to put devices away. I expect that my participation in meetings will increase, and better meetings and relationships will be the result.
There is one exception to this resolution…taking notes in meetings. Especially if you are the official designated scribe, please use your laptop to take notes.