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Monday, April 24, 2006

E-mail + Blackberrys = Frustration

Have you ever been in a meeting and watched people take their attention from what is being discussed to respond to a message on their Blackberry ? Does anybody else find this to be distracting and just plain rude? Are the people using Blackberrys and the messages they receive so important that they must take their attention away from you or others to respond instantly to their e-mail? I think not. These users will claim that they are listening to you and paying attention; however, that has proven not to be the case.

The overwhelming majority (99%) of people can't read and effectively listen simultaneously. The ones that say they can are the ones you need to worry about. They aren’t listening and that can hurt your project.

A recent research report out of King's College, London, claims that e-mail use has addictive aspects and that it causes a temporary IQ drop of up to 10 points-—a bigger drop than that caused by inveterate pot-smoking! Add to the e-mail mix an addictive, on-the-hip, always on device like a Blackberry, and this lapse in intelligence can affect meetings, projects, and your ability to effectively do your job.

Some Blackberry users I know are addicts. Just like a smoker, when the urge strikes out comes the Blackberry. They don't see the harm. They are being productive, responsive, accountable, saving time, money, etc... In meetings or conversations they are a distraction, an annoyance, and not giving you and others their full attention. They are out of touch and oblivious to what is important.

You have seen the scenario; whenever the device buzzes, chirps, or rings everything around them ceases to be important except the message on their device. They must respond and must respond now. Is this behavior acceptable now? If we were having a conversation and you picked up a book and started reading, or turned on a nearby television and started watching and changing channels wouldn't that be a sign that what I was saying wasn't important?

Hopefully one person (besides me) will read this message and change their behavior. When I see senior management or leaders exhibit this type of behavior it makes me wonder how they would feel if I exhibited this behavior when they were talking.

Turn off the Blackberry during meetings or leave them at your desk. . You aren’t that important and neither are the messages you are reading!

End of rant...

Comments welcome

1 comment:

James P. MacLennan said...

I contra-posted something about this
last september ... (see bullet 4). To me, it's kind of like doodling on a notepad while folks are talking - not meant to be rude, it actually helps keep the mind from wandering ...