The phone: do you ever “need to take this”?


You’re working solo on something that needs your concentration.  Or you’re in a meeting.  Or you’re with someone.

    Your mobile phone rings.

    Do you know it rings?  If you can hear it yes.  If it’s on silent and close by, or in your pocket, you might still notice its vibration.

    Do you answer it? 

    On autopilot or does it depend on who’s ringing?  Or is your reaction whimsical?

    Many years ago I used to drive 70 or 80 minutes to an office in Dublin.  Then I’d leave my mobile phone in the car.  My younger colleagues were perplexed by the behaviour of Brendan the dinosaur.

    My explanation was simple.  I had a work phone on my desk.  The important people in my life knew that work number. 

    The world has changed since then though.  Now we have smartphones.  And they’re addictive.  And some people wear freneticism as a badge of honour.

    At this time of year I’m on the phone a lot.  It’s seasonal work and it involves me calling lots of people on their mobiles.  And they answer.

    And common reactions include:

    “Sorry – I’m with someone right now.  Can you call me tomorrow?

    “I can’t talk right now – I’m in a meeting.  I have your number and I’ll call you…

    “I’m driving right now…

    Now here’s what still astonishes me.  These people don’t know me.  My number is unknown to them.  I’m not their spouse whom they always answer.  I’m not their child’s paedeatrician from whom they’re expecting a call. 

    To be blunt, I’m not important to them.

    So why do they answer if they’re in a meeting or with someone or driving without a hands-free set?

    Let’s forget the danger of answering while driving.  That still leaves the fact that many people habitually answer their phone to unknown numbers when they’re in meetings or with someone at work.

    Are you one?  Even sometimes?

    What does this do to your focus?  What does it do to your relationships with the people you’re with?

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