The Porch

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Mind If I Tweet?

Texting or Tweeting while Talking

Scenario: Two colleagues sit down to to a casual downtown lunch. The restaurant is bustling, the conversation is great and they’ve both ordered. Within minutes, patron #1 picks up the iPhone and begins to update her Twitter account. Patron #2 is okay at first, but soon her fellow diner is laughing at responses to her updates, sharing occasionally, be she feels left out.

How should patron #1 respond?
a. Comment, but laugh as if she really is in on the joke?
b. Grab her own device and check her email?
c. Look around until his dining partner’s attention comes back to the table?

It’s a tough choice these days, when many people dine, date and practically sleep with their PDAs. Professionals are on alert every minute of the day and many are bound to the 24-hour news cycle. According to Christine Pearson, co-author of The Cost of Bad Behavior, professionals around the world rank gadget absorption first on the rude list. While certain occasions call for the tweet/text, most don’t. Social scientists consider constant texting and tweeting potential signs of narcissism or insecurity. In a recent blog post at US News & World Report, Deborah Kotz posits that “It’s a grass-is-always-greener-with-someone-who’s-not-there mentality.”

Here are the rules I set for myself (and my daughter):

    • If picking up a phone would be considered rude in the setting, don’t pick up your PDA.
    • If you’re expecting an important call, text or tweet, alert your guest/colleague when you sit down.
    • Pay attention! No matter how adept you are at multi-tasking, you can’t look at your dining partner and your screen at once.
    • If I’d rather be somewhere else then I leave as soon as possible. Don’t disrespect the person/people who’ve decided to spend time with you.

I have found myself breaking these rules when I’m with long-time friends or family. I must constantly remind myself that simply putting my device on “silent” doesn’t eliminate the distraction. If I’m not engaged with my guests, it shows. One of the first laws of sales/interviews/public speaking to make good eye contact. It’s hard to look someone in the eye while reading my screen.

Of course, I’m not all 80’s. I do understand that certain experiences welcome and encourage sharing your world over wireless. But please be sure to note the body language and responses of your partners. You don’t want to ever miss that kind word or a beautiful smile.

Question: Do you have PDA rules? What are they and when do you follow them?

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This entry was posted on 01/09/2010 by in DOOR #3 and tagged , , , , , .
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