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“Wi-Fi: Searching for networks…”

The growth of technology in the last few decades has led to the widespread use of technology in the workplace such as laptops and cellphones and from these devices, we can communicate with lots of people. These devices have crossed over between our personal and professional lives and we often forget the boundaries and procedures that should be followed in both aspects of our lives.

Professionally, there is a judgment call that needs to be made based on your mobility during your workday. An individual who is running from place to place and meeting to meeting will often need to use their cell phone for e-mailing and calls to stay connected to clients and the office. This can lead to an increase in personal calls, texts, e-mails etc. that can distract from an individual’s work schedule and affect their productivity. If an individual is located in the office and has access to a desktop or professional laptop computer and/or desk phone, the use of one’s cell phone would decrease exponentially.

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Offices usually won’t explicitly state what their policies are on cell-phone use and then it becomes a matter of discretion for the employee. This can be difficult for some, especially millennials who are used to constantly checking their cell phones for the latest news. This is also an issue in meetings, especially informal meetings with other coworkers or meetings conducted over a landline.

 

Using your cell phone in front of people either personally or professionally can be considered rude and disrespectful. Since there’s no “rule book” for this kind of thing, it usually puts the other person in an uncomfortable position because they do not know how to respond to this disrespect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to use the “stare-and-glare” tactic (staring at them with an upset look until they stop using their phone) with my friends when they’re using their phones too much while we’re spending time together. The same feeling is true during a meeting. If you’re talking or presenting, you feel hurt and disrespected when somebody pulls out his or her phone. As soon as they do this, it is a signal to you that they are no longer listening to what you are saying, and they don’t care. Regardless of the relevance of the information being presented to each employee, everyone present should be paying attention.

Personally, I have trouble presenting and have been slowly building my skills through each presentation and every time I talk in class. If I saw someone pull out his or her phone in class, I would feel an immediate blow to my self-esteem and it would affect my ability to present. Facial emotions are a significant detail for presentations and you need to construct a certain “face” based on your topic. For me, a self-esteem blow would show on my face and my audience would be able to see that I was no longer confident in what I was saying, I would lose their attention even more, and my presentation would become irrelevant.

Attentive listening is an important part of relationship building and doing other things while having a conversation with someone is a sure-fire way to make people feel as if they are not important. You can tell someone how significant he or she is to you, but if you do not show it, he or she won’t believe you.

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People take notice when you are not paying attention and increased cell phone use during professional time will result in negative consequences. It does not matter what you are doing on your phone, texting your mom or e-mailing your most important client, the message is clear: I am not listening to you, I do not care what you are saying, and I do not respect you.

I’m not saying that you should hide your cell phone for the entirety of your day in the office, but you should be aware of the situation you are in and what message you are sending to others through your cell-phone use.

Fun fact: Forbes.com polled the American public and more people believed it to be more unacceptable to use your cell phone during church than in a meeting. The difference was marginal, but you get the picture. Five percent of the population believes it is ok to use their cell phone during meetings. How is this possible? We should be concerned now more than ever about the effect of using our cell phones in the presence of others.

cell phone meme 2

Consider recent meetings you have had: Have they lasted longer than they used to in the past? Have you ever felt like you weren’t listened to? Has technology ever gotten in the way? Chances are you have had one, if not all, of the above happened to you. The fact of the matter is cell phones and other forms of communicative technology can impede our connections with other people. As a species we are structured to be social, to converse, to have physical interactions with people. The communication we have with others through cell phone use has led to disconnect between our peers, whether we feel it or not: we are the loneliest generation. Now more than ever we are connected to all parts of the world, we are a globalized society, yet our generation has reported that we are not happy and we feel disconnected from others.

There is discussion about conducting new studies related to something called nomophobia, the fear of being without our cell phones. The feeling of nomophobia is the anxiety felt from being without our phones, when they run out of battery, when there’s no wireless connection, or no network connection. It’s the fear of not being able to be contacted through your device, or that you can’t contact other people. A study reported by Psychology Today states “about 58 percent of men and 47 percent of women suffer from the phobia, and an additional 9 percent feel stressed when their mobile phones are off.” Additionally, the study shows the stress levels felt by this disconnect are “on par with wedding day jitters”. Another study done by the University of Missouri found that your cognitive performance could decrease during daily activities if you disconnect yourself from your device due to a “lessening of ‘self’ and a negative psychological state” as a result of our connection to our devices as an “extension of ourselves”.

Is this how we want to behave? Ask yourself if you feel comfortable allowing your physiological state being affected by your connection to your mobile device. Are you comfortable knowing that your heart rate increases, you become physically and mentally uneasy, that you may perform worse in a meeting or on a test if you are separated from your device? The studies are all preliminary and there is much more to be uncovered about this problem, but it is plain to see how it is affecting our daily lives. There are ways to counteract this behavior such as monitoring your time with your devices and making sure you spend quality face-to-face time with others. You can take a day every week or month to not use technology at all. Find what works for you and monitor your progress.

Technology in the workplace versus technology in life: It’s the same thing. My advice to you is to think about how your technology use is preventing you from making connections with others and attempt to find ways to change your behavior to make your connections more meaningful. Challenge yourself to make more connections everyday. Make an effort to connect with people you haven’t talked to in a while. Have dinner with your friends and encourage them all to not use their phones at the table. Use your friends and family as a support system to work on reducing your use of technology, and encourage them to do the same. The feeling of being disconnected may surprise you at first, but will hopefully put you on a path toward a better way of life.

cell phone meme

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