Cell Phone people. We all know them. They’re texting throughout meetings. They’re talking loudly on their Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) as they walk through the grocery store, down the streets and into the toilet. They are boorishly oblivious to everyone around them.
The phenomenon is growing to epidemic proportions. A large portion of our population are now simply unable to sit through a meeting, meal or movie without using it. Simon Sinek makes a scarily compelling argument that it is an addiction similar to smoking or cocaine. They are more annoying than mosquitoes in a nudist colony.
What do you do? (about the cell phone people, not the mosquitoes). Here are four strategies:
1. Pick Your Battles
As annoying as the stranger sitting next to you in the airport lounge might be as he (she) tells a colleague about the big deal he’s scored, it is just an annoyance. Let it go.
2. Be Direct
If you know ahead of time that one of the people in your meeting is a cell phone person, say, “Okay, let’s get started with the meeting.” Then look at him pointedly and say “No cell phones.” Don’t go into more detail. You don’t need to scold them. Just start the meeting.
3. Be Inclusive
If you think the person in #2 (above) might get offended by being singled out, or if there will be multiple cellphone people in the meeting, do the same as #2, but look at everyone pointedly. Again, no scolding.
4. Use Humor
The more you ignore the behaviour, the more people think it’s acceptable and the more likely they will be to continue doing it. All scolding does, however, is make you look like the bad guy, so it’s best to avoid that approach. One effective strategy, though, is some well-placed humour. E.g.:
“We’ve started an office pool on how long you can go without looking at your phone.”
“When you can’t get a signal, how long is it before you actually start twitching?”
“I’ll give you a dollar if you can go the whole meal without looking at your phone.”
“There will be five of us at the meeting today; Fred, Susan, Bob, Andrea and Andrea’s cell phone…”
(Handing cell-phone-person a glass of water) “Here. This is for your phone.”
Are You A Cell Phone Person?
If, after reading this, you realize, “Oh dear, I’m the guy this article is written about!,” then try to be more aware of how and when you use your phone. Then, when you catch yourself texting or talking during inappropriate times, here’s what to do:
a) Grab the biggest stick you can find
b) Hit yourself over the head with it