I get it. This meeting is beneath you. This discussion doesn’t rise to the level of your eminence. The slides that they took hours to prep are not even worth a look. You’ll catch the basics of the talk track they rehearsed and worried over for hours and days if you glance up occasionally. That’s how you roll. You are big time. Your full attention is too much for us. You are simply too important to concern yourself with the little people around you. We can't possibly understand your incredibly busy can’t stop for a minute fast paced big decisions gotta check my phone I am the big cheese life. Or wait, is this not true? Well then …
Quit being an asshole and put down your phone.
There is no excuse for it. If this sounds like you in a meeting, you’re an asshole. I am not talking about someone else. I am talking about you. We all see you. We all notice that you are so hyper focused on your phone or laptop that you barely look up to acknowledge us. We are going on anyways because that’s what people do. We all know that whatever you are so busy doing during our meeting can probably wait. We all know that if we are having this meeting and spending the time together whatever is on your phone probably should wait. But here’s what you should know ...
We ALL think you are an asshole.
You are not fooling anyone. No one sitting across from you is seeing your behavior and thinking “Wow! Bob sure is burning it at both ends,” or “Man! Mary just doesn’t stop working hard for a minute. She sure is super." Nope. Sorry to break the news to you Mr. Big. We all know that whatever you are doing while you multitask through the meeting could wait. If it couldn’t, maybe you could act like an adult and step out of the room. We all know that it’s not a reflection of how important you are, rather how unimportant you think we all are. We all know that you are probably checking email, LinkedIn, or Slack, simply to see if there are updates that will pacify your insecurity. It’s insecurity that is warranted since …
We ALL think you are an asshole.
I hope the clarity prompts a change. We all held such high hopes for you when you joined the project, team, company. Unfortunately we are all starting to give up. “Oh [fill in your name] is just an asshole. He is always on his phone during meetings.” Tough to hear. I know. But you can fix this. It may seem overwhelming at first. Putting down the phone is like leaving the pacifier behind. It’s tough. I assume you don’t have a pacifier in your pocket. I hope you can drop this childish habit too. Go ahead, dig deep, leave the phone at your desk. Turn it over. Put it out of reach. Give it to a sponsor to hold. You’ll be surprised how much more important you feel when you actually earn the respect of your peers by paying attention to them. You'll be surprised how much richer your relationships are when you're engaged and present. You’ll be surprised how much smarter you will become when you actually show up.
Go ahead … put down the phone!
About David Verhaag
David is the Vice President, Client Experience at Degreed, the lifelong learning platform. Prior to Degreed, David established and scaled the Customer Success function at Kahuna and HireVue and spent eight+ years with SuccessFactors where he led the development of the global Customer Value team. David lives on a sailboat in Half Moon Bay, CA.
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