I was somewhat taken aback a few weeks ago when a class instructor informed us that the use of cell phones or any mobile device for texting or other personal tasks during business meetings is considered acceptable. My first thought was that I must have misunderstood the teacher. So I asked for clarification. His response was that people checking, sending and receiving emails or texts during business meetings, was perfectly acceptable these days. While I found the statement difficult to believe, I decided I would not question the comment further.
This past week while discussing social media with someone who has experience participating in as well as facilitating meetings, I brought up this issue along with the teacher’s response. While I expected to hear some sort of validation of my feelings, I was surprised and a bit stunned to hear a mini-lecture that the world needs to change to meet the changing behavior of the younger generation and their use of social media.
I then relayed the story to my sister to elicit her opinion. She admitted it was a problem with the government employee meetings she attends or conducts. Shaking her head in disgust, she said that a few people in all age groups do tend to use mobile devises while people are trying to discuss issues or relay information. She informed me that the people are simply reluctant to say anything.
I completely agree there are many areas which need to and have adapted to changes in technology along with the rise and popularity of social media. Today’s well run, proactive businesses have made successful adjustments and wise moves to take full advantage of social media venues. But when did embracing these changes mean we should throw out basic common courtesy?
I cannot imagine any business facilitator I have known finding acceptable individuals using tablets or cell phones while a business meeting is being conducted anymore than they would accept those same employees carrying on conversations while someone is speaking. In a hypothetical situation, would we as a customer accept an employee accessing social media while they were supposed to be assisting us? I don’t think it would take long for those customers to start tweeting negative comments about their experience.
What’s next? Should we now decide that people texting or talking on mobile devices when they are in movie or live theaters is acceptable? While some do feelthat’s perfectly acceptable behavior, I’m fairly confident the majority of people sitting around them do not. Surprisingly, a national movie theater chain announced this week it is looking into relaxing its rules to allow the use of mobile devises during movies which tend to be attended by certain age groups. The assumption is that all of the younger audience members will find this fun and acceptable. I’m not so sure this is a wise move. Time will tell should this go into effect.
Making adjustments and changing as technology advances is acceptable, important and especially wise for business applications. On the other hand, to take that further and say we should throw long accepted civilized behavior out the window simply because of the wide spread use of a new technology is not the sign of a well educated and civilized society.