Cell phones and texting are here to stay and as younger people move into the business world, they are bringing a legacy of checking and sending messages during all occasions ranging from walking down the street to dinner. Evidently they do not see it as rude since everybody is doing it, and my point here is not to debate changing social mores. I have a different thought in mind.
There is a lot of research supporting the notion of sustained eye contact as a means of establishing relaxation, trust and intimacy in a fairly short period of time . . . like at a business lunch or dinner or over cocktails after work. There are powerful physical and mental forces at work when we look someone in the eye while talking to him/her. Each person is sending dozens of subliminal cues per minute . . . approval, disapproval, trust, distrust . . . and the only way our minds can keep up is by watching the other person’s face, and eyes, on a sustained basis.
Breaking away to look at a text breaks an important bonding dynamic. It also sends a not so subtle signal that the other person is not very important to us . . . at least not as important as some random text that is coming in.
There is only one way to insure resisting the now knee jerk reaction to peek, that most of us have . . . turn off our phones going into a client meeting. Even if the client stops occasionally to look at his phone . . . don’t take the bait. I promise those text messages will all be there when you get back to the car.
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