Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Communications Technology

20-Somethings Think It's OK To Text and Answer Calls In Business Meetings 453

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-can't-you-play-angry-birds-like-everyone-else dept.
RichDiesal writes "In an upcoming article in Business Communication Quarterly, researchers found that more than half of 20-somethings believe it appropriate to read texts during formal business meetings, whereas only 16% of workers 40+ believe the same thing. 34% of 20-somethings believe it appropriate to answer the phone in the middle of a meeting (i.e., not excusing yourself to answer the phone — answering and talking mid-meeting!). It is unclear if this is happening because more younger workers grew up with mobile technology, or if it's because older workers have the experience to know that answering a call in the middle of a meeting is a terrible idea. So if you're a younger worker, consider leaving your phone alone in meetings to avoid annoying your coworkers. And if you're an older worker annoyed at what you believe to be rude behavior, just remember, it's not you – it's them!"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

20-Somethings Think It's OK To Text and Answer Calls In Business Meetings

Comments Filter:
  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:28PM (#45302537)

    Then people can answer calls/check facebook/play minesweeper during meetings without being noticed.

  • I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:30PM (#45302557)

    Most of upper management is on their crackberry when anything remotely technical pops up in a meeting.

  • by gauauu (649169) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:30PM (#45302571)

    Maybe the young kids have just figured out what the older generations haven't, which is that meetings are often a life-draining waste of time? They could be answering their phones in passive-aggressive protest of being locked up wasting their time in a conference room. </snark>

  • Pfft. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dtmos (447842) * on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:33PM (#45302607)

    Most 50- and 60-somethings I know think it's OK, too.

  • by reve_etrange (2377702) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:33PM (#45302611)

    Ignoring any potential objective effects, wouldn't it make more sense to state, "if you're an older worker, remember that they aren't trying to be rude?" And then, maybe to say something, instead of judging silently?

    Basically the assumptions that the "correct" standard of behavior belongs solely to a certain group, and that others should be expected to be a priori aware of others opinions absent communication, are critically flawed.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:33PM (#45302617) Homepage

    Today, you usually know who's calling before you answer. It may be appropriate to take a call if it's more important than the meeting. If you're in sales, a call from a major customer is probably more important than a meeting. If you're responsible for something operational, a call from someone reporting trouble is probably more important than the meeting.

    As for reading texts, if you're in a meeting and the current meeting activity doesn't involve you, it's an effective use of your time. This is more of a large-meeting thing. Large meetings are generally nonproductive anyway.

  • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:35PM (#45302661)
    They are only a waste of time because of people who arrive late, do not prepare, and spend too much time babbling about stuff that is unimportant.

    Meeting can and should be about collaboration, with group participation, and getting something done. If you can not get that out of a meeting, fire the participants.
  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:37PM (#45302703)

    No meetings are about powerpoint, useless droning on and wasting everyone's time. Meetings are the alternative to work for the people who schedule them.

    None of us is as dumb as all of us.

  • Re:Zero Tolerance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:40PM (#45302737)

    Which in many cases will look like your company is out of date. I make a point of throwing out business cards in front of sales drones who hand them to me. Send me your contact details via some more modern method or do not bother, I am not your secretary.

  • Other way around (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:42PM (#45302761) Homepage

    Young folks know that business meetings are usually not actually important. Most of the meeting is spent addressing other people's concerns or bragging about some piece of information that the presenter feels is important, but is only trivia to most of the audience. If there's anything else, like a text message, that is perceived as a better use of one's time, they're likely to pay attention to that, rather than the meeting.

    Older folks would previously have just dozed off in meetings, or doodled on notebooks looking like they were paying attention. Now that older folks are likely to be the ones leading the meeting*, of course they feel slighted when their subordinates are devoting attention elsewhere.

    Another contributing factor is that young folks are more often the expendable workforce. They're the ones who are getting the longer hours and heavier workloads, being taught through their short careers that handling two problems at once is a minimum. There's a good chance that text message is work-related, and not responding would be the greater offense.

    * From TFA:

    People with higher incomes are more judgmental about mobile phone use than people with lower incomes

    ...which indicates to me that the older ones are the managers. On a wider study, this assumption may be invalid, as different industries have more youth at the top, but it appears this study covered 200 employees at a beverage distributor for its initial phase, and it doesn't reveal how many were used for the second phase. Not much hope for demographic diversity.

  • Re:I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpaceGhost (23971) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:44PM (#45302787)

    I have to agree. Very few meetings would keep me from monitoring my email, being a tech lead you have to keep on top of things, and the excuse "well,I was in a meeting" means nothing if the department has lost connectivity. Monitoring or responding to social communications is not included, and even a call from the CEO would be taken outside the room. The balance is are you being responsive to your positions demands vs. ignoring them and being involved in non-work conversations, while being able to participate in the meeting so as to contribute as appropriate and retain or record information as needed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:45PM (#45302811)

    Good meetings and committees have a good chairperson.

    A good chairperson makes achievable goals, gives out assignments, and keeps discussions on task. He or she checks that assignments are done and makes reports of progress with measurable results.

    A bad chairperson lets participants ramble and never checks to see that anyone accomplishes anything.

    So when you say you go to bad meetings, what you're saying is that you have a bad chairperson.

  • Re:Wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:46PM (#45302817) Homepage Journal
    Bottomline, don't be a fucking Nazi.

    It's a meeting. You're supposedly discussing something which requires the attention and input of everyone there. If that phone call is that important then get up and go outside. You don't sit in the meeting discussing something else.

    It's called common courtesy and common sense. If you consider those two items such a burden, then obviously so are you to the organization.
  • Re:Wtf? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:48PM (#45302851)

    Did you consider that the call can actually be more important than "your meeting"?

    If it's important enough to take, it's important enough to get up and leave.

    If you are not confident in your leadership skills, it is natural to put a grumpy sour face when someone is audacious enough to fiddle with their phone during "your" meeting.

    If I'm holding the meeting then yes, it's my fucking meeting, and if you've got more important things to do then go do them and quit wasting my time.

  • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:49PM (#45302867)
    Ever hear the phrase 'the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing' ?

    Something tells me you are an expert at it's implementation.

    Nothing of any significance gets built without chopping it up into smaller pieces and distributing the work. If you think that it is magically going to work together you are crazy. Smart meetings are the ones that pick the leaders and allow them to discuss and agree on an approach.

    I will agree dragging some low life insignificant code writer into them is probably a waste of everyone's time. It is more often done to try and prevent them from whining about how something was decided on later. "Who's the idiot that came up with this?" - harder to say that when you were involved. The point being if you are dragged into a meeting, it is probably because you are a 'leader' or a 'whiner'. At least that has been my experience.
  • by EvilSS (557649) on Friday November 01, 2013 @02:58PM (#45302997)
    "It's just like the good old days when people didn't feel like they were entitled to bring their personal lives to work showed up at work to, well, you know, work.", he said, posting the comment to Slashdot in the middle of the workday.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:05PM (#45303101)

    Ok, I am a 30 something year old so I don't fit into either demographics...

    However most of the time meetings are an out of date idea's. They historically worked because we didn't have a communication infrastructure that we do today. Conference phones where limited in the number of people on the line, issues with the person not being close enough to the phone to be heard and a slew of other communication problems, and before that it was very hard to get a bunch of people work on an idea, in a timely manner.

    But really for most meetings, the individual doesn't need to be fully mentally involved unless there is something important to them. It would be much easier to chat via a message system, you can see the stuff go across your screen, while you work on something else, until something important comes up you can can then review what went on and come up with an appropriate answer.

    the 20 somethings who grew up with this technology knows this and get very board during these meetings, as there is a lot of stuff that isn't important to them at the time that is going on. Now that said, It is still rude to disrupt the meeting with your activities, and if you are stuck at the meeting you should show some tact, but hopefully experience will clear that up.

  • by intermodal (534361) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:11PM (#45303175) Homepage Journal

    I may not be a cell-phone-in-a-business-meeting guy, but I am firmly of the opinion that the more of someone's time you waste while holding a meeting, the more likely people are to find something else to do while attending.

    Most people who hold "meetings" in today's business world confuse meeting with lectures and slideshows.

    Watch anything where a meeting takes place from your grandparents' generation. Someone is in charge, someone is taking down the minutes, the presentations are quick, efficient, and unembellished beyond what is effective. There is an agenda, and it is adhered to. If it is not on the agenda, it can wait until another meeting, or be discussed during new business. Everyone is expected to bring something other than their body to the meeting, and everyone gets an opportunity to contribute.

    Go to an average meeting today. At almost every job I've had, what is called a meeting is really a "this should have been a brief email" coupled with "your input is only desired if you agree with me".

  • by Tempest_2084 (605915) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:13PM (#45303213)
    I work at a large 'Top Ten' company and I see this sort of thing from just about everyone who is under 60 (the older folk seem to doodle on notepads rather than play on phones). It doesn't matter if it's a manager or an intern, if there are more than a handful of people in a meeting you're going to see this. I get tired of hearing exchanges like this day in and day out:

    Speaker: And what do you think about that Johnson?
    Johnson: (playing on his phone) Huh? What?
    Speaker: What do YOU think about this?
    Johnson: (glazed look on his face) Umm... Can you repeat what you said? I didn't hear you the first time.

    Meetings grind to a halt when this stuff happens. Not only is it rude to the speaker, but you waste everyone's time when they have to go through everything again. Everyone swears they can play on their phone and listen at the same time, but it doesn't work. I understand the occasional emergency call (my favorite was when we could hear the guy shouting "The babysitter is doing WHAT? Stop her before she gets out the door!". I still have no idea what that was about.) but your day to day activities (work related or otherwise) can wait until the meeting is over with. It's just common courtesy.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:20PM (#45303359) Homepage Journal

    They are self-centered and everything is about them, and them only. Common courtesy and respect are gone in that generation..

    Do that around me in the office and you are fired, or at the least off the project. Do it around me personally, don't expect to be a friend.

  • by Tanktalus (794810) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:24PM (#45303413) Journal

    More time spent paying attention even when you didn't think it was important may have paid off on spelling and grammar. "ideas", "were" limited, "fully involved mentally" (ok, that one is probably debatable), "The" 20"-"somethings", "bored"

    That said, the road we've been going down for decades already, since even the 40-somethings were kids, is one of more and more stimulation, of lower and lower quality. A hundred years ago, kids likely had to invent their own games, or, if they had access, they could read. 40 years ago, it was TV. Today it's Facebook. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that we've been training ourselves to require constant stimulation, with no regard for how good it is. Or, rather, we've stopped learning how to just be quiet and focused on the here and now, no matter how "boring" it might be. It apparently is also a helpful skill for being respectful of those around you.

  • by dknight (202308) <damenNO@SPAMknightspeed.com> on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:35PM (#45303649) Homepage Journal

    I'm sorry, but that is largely a load of crap.

    I have had to attend a great many meetings in my day that were entirely irrelevant to me, my job, etc. There was no reason for me to be there, other than the fact that a manager wanted me to physically be there.

    Now, you can argue that I should not have to attend useless meetings, but the older generation is stuck on them and so we have little choice. That is not to say that no meetings have merit, of course.

    Being able to sit quietly in an irrelevant meeting isn't actually a particularly useful skill in the rest of life, so I can hardly blame anyone for wanting something to do or some other distraction during them.

    You may consider it impolite or disrespectful. I consider it disrespectful to make me waste an hour of my time because you feel the need to show your self-importance by calling unnecessary meetings and forcing people who have no need to go to them to be there.

  • Re:Over 40s (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:43PM (#45303783)

    As a 20 something I'm eagerly waiting for these baby boomers to just retire so we don't have to deal with thier nonsense.

    While all "boomers" are over 40, many non-boomers, children of boomers in fact, are over 40.

  • by bob_super (3391281) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:46PM (#45303839)

    On the other hand, doing what your boss asks of you, even when it's wasting your time in a useless meeting, is your job!

    If the meetings prevent you from doing the useful part of your job, tell your boss. If not, sit there quietly, you're paid to take a break.

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:51PM (#45303925) Homepage

    Just a personal anecdote. I was invited to present to senior leadership at my company, and everybody in the room significantly outranked me. The previous speaker had taken a while after lunch to speak, and after I finished setting up several people were still not back from taking a break. I asked the executive running the meeting if I should go ahead and start. He told me not to, and that we'd go ahead and embarrass anybody who was late, which he basically then did (he didn't say a word, but I'm sure everybody who walked in noted the dead silence in the room). I was given my full allotment of time to present despite them being a few minutes behind on the agenda.

    The message I got out of this was that the executive running the meeting valued my time, and wanted those who worked for him to do the same. Everybody was well-engaged in the brief discussion following my presentation. The meeting had none of the usual distractions.

    I made a point to pass along feedback afterwards that I appreciated the way the meeting was run. My manager actually told me at our next meeting that she was asked to relay an apology from the executive for the waste of my time. It really had an impact on the importance I placed on doing a good job at work - leadership by example works.

  • by jimbrooking (1909170) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:51PM (#45303939)

    Ok, I am a 30 something year old so I don't fit into either demographics...

    However most of the time meetings are an out of date idea's. They historically worked because we didn't have a communication infrastructure that we do today. Conference phones where limited in the number of people on the line, issues with the person not being close enough to the phone to be heard and a slew of other communication problems, and before that it was very hard to get a bunch of people work on an idea, in a timely manner.

    But really for most meetings, the individual doesn't need to be fully mentally involved unless there is something important to them. It would be much easier to chat via a message system, you can see the stuff go across your screen, while you work on something else, until something important comes up you can can then review what went on and come up with an appropriate answer.

    the 20 somethings who grew up with this technology knows this and get very board during these meetings, as there is a lot of stuff that isn't important to them at the time that is going on. Now that said, It is still rude to disrupt the meeting with your activities, and if you are stuck at the meeting you should show some tact, but hopefully experience will clear that up.

    So, apparently are spelling and grammar (oudated idea's - SIC).

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday November 01, 2013 @04:13PM (#45304263)

    We're getting all of these conveniences and our society doesn't have the time to instruct people (kids especially) what is and isn't appropriate behavior. It's not just this. It's people taking snapshots of party goers doing something embarrassing, sexting, phone calls in theaters, etc. I was just at the coffee shop and a woman had one of those bluetooth headsets talking away while at the counter. Now, nothing is more annoying than standing next to someone when you can't tell if they're talking to you, the cashier, herself, or some hidden phone under their hair or on the opposite side of their head.

    However, society hasn't had the time to say "hey this pisses other people off so just because it makes irrelevant 5 minutes conversations convenient, wait until you're in private to use this device."

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday November 01, 2013 @06:56PM (#45306419)

    A meeting usually covers many topics, only some of which apply to most participants.

    For example: The annual briefing at my workplace. I'm support staff at a school.
    Summary of results? No interest to me. I'm not a teacher.
    Health and safety briefing? This I need to know.
    Fire evacuation plans? Half of it I need, the other half matters only to the fire wardens, of which I am not one.
    The boss's boss's boss's boss's droneing motivational speech? I fell asleep last time.

  • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Friday November 01, 2013 @11:17PM (#45308511) Journal
    Why are you in the meeting if you aren't going to pay attention to it? If you don't have the ability to focus on something for 30 to 60 minutes at the exclusion of all else, you shouldn't be given responsibility for anything.. Fuck I'm surprise you don't swallow your tongue when you try to eat. You don't have the mental discipline required for responsibility. You know why people go to a separate room for a meeting? You go there to meet because for that time period you are * not * fucking * available * for anyone else. You are available for those in the meeting. If that weren't the intention they wouldn't call the fucking meeting in the first place. And if you are not being asked something or speaking in the meeting, you are listening. Someone invited you there because you might know something that can help. And you can't help anyone in the meeting if you are not paying attention to it. You are just a sack of shit taking up space in the meeting room. Get your fucking head out of your ass. [/endrant]

Forty two.

Working...