A lot happens on our phones. Many of us interact with them many times a day, and in multiple ways. We have an intimacy with our phones. This is no casual fling.
I can appreciate the attraction. They are there when we need them (until we misplace them). They’re sleek, sexy, and of course, smart. But by interacting too much with these charming electronic companions, we cause our in-person interactions to suffer.
Meeting someone in person offers the opportunity to connect in a way that you cannot from afar. However, such a connection requires that you be present, available, and focused on the other person. If I am ostensibly listening to you speak, but actually timing my next glance down at my phone, I am not really listening. We are not really connecting, and an opportunity to further our relationship has been diminished.
This behavior is not limited to conference rooms. Hallways, elevators, and lobbies are clogged with emailers, texters, and tweeters paying scant attention to the those around them. In these contexts, too, opportunities to engage with real live people are lost.
Resist the urge to reach for that device. Who knows, maybe you’ll actually strike up a conversation with the person standing next to you, and maybe you’ll be glad to know that person down the road. Business is built on relationships, and there is value—personal as well as professional—in connecting to others in the physical world.