The Loss of Business Civility

“Technology is our friend”. I’ve said those words many times. I believe them as well.

As a consultant my smart phone is a precious and extraordinary resource which houses my calendar, thousands of phone numbers, addresses, emails, photos, social media applications, music and more. It is my real time link to my clients, family, friends, and the world. It is a tremendous time saver and ultimate organizer.

But it comes at a cost.

It makes every message, text, email seem “urgent”. However 99% of all of them fall into what Stephen Covey calls Quadrant 3 (Urgent/Not Important) activities.  The ping, the text, the ring, the whir creates urgency and causes the recipient to feel that they need to respond to feel in control. Immediate response is the enemy of focus and prioritization. Furthermore, immediate response is rude to the “one you’re with”.

In writing this I feared I would sound like an old-timer who yearned for business civility of the past. I do not yearn for the past. Business and life were inefficient. Communication was slow. Messages were lost and unreturned. But when you physically met with someone, you had their attention.

However, when I am meeting with someone I cringe if they spend their time answering their text messages, emails, etc. when I am present. They are not “efficient”. They are rude and disrespectful and are communicating that the message they are answering is more important than giving their attention to our discussion.  They are a slave to the unimportant, making themselves feel as if they were “on top of things” by immediately answering messages, which are for the most part of little/no consequence.  

I understand why it happens. The devices are addictive. There’s a reason for the “crackberry” term. But I don’t have to like it. And I don’t have to like rude behavior and lack of personal civility that occurs as a result. In the end, I am sorry for those who are addicted as they are not running their lives more efficiently–technology is running them.

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  1. Trisha says:

    Lonny –

    I enjoyed the article on Greed in the ’10s…. always interested in your perspective!


  2. Business civility, well said, Lonny. Technology is valuable and helps with efficiency, on the other hand, it has taken civility out of personal as well as business relationships. I turn mine off during meetings and when socializing. Nothing is so important that it can’t wait an hour or so.

    Am enjoying your strummings. Keep ‘em coming.
    Best, Judtih

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