So, those who know me in the real world outside the “interwebs,” have heard my tales of woe as my own decrepitude and mortality was shamelessly flaunted before my very eyes in my quest for convenience. I shall share with you my pain, but this is not only a revelation… it is also a cautionary tale for the astute professional.
I do not know about the rest of you out there, but despite my best efforts to resist, I have become completely attached to the evils of technology. By this I mean, of course, the mobile phone. Yes, sad as it is, I seem to have forgotten what it was like in the days when you left home or office and people would just have to wait until you came back to speak with you on the phone. Other elements of my life have been impacted, however, in addition to just the communication-from-anywhere-at-anytime phenomenon. I no longer wear a watch. I rely upon my clever little mobile device to provide that information and be correctly matched to time zone (since the time is received from the closest tower). It is a right handy trick, especially for those of us who might be in multiple time zones on any given day. It truly was a bit of a challenge to keep appointments and meetings straight when merely relying on the timepiece secured to the wrist. Not to mention, there was always the issue of returning to your home time zone only to forget to set your watch back… ah yes, much like the Daylight Savings Time, there was always the risk of missing a meeting or showing up ridiculously early upon return from a different zone. But I digress…
Unlike many of my technologically savvy and technology-adoring friends, I firmly resist getting the latest and greatest every time something new comes out. I am not criticizing the impulse to get the newest shiny on the market and try out the latest updates. I am just not one to be always on the cutting edge. I will leave that to my dear ones who are always happy to provide me with unsolicited reviews of “Look What It DOES?!?” and “Oh my, they will need to fix that bug on the next firmware upgrade…” It helps me avoid any of the less successful technological advancements. However, as logical and appropriate as that sounds, I’m totally lying. I anthropomorphize my equipment. It’s true. My fear of change and resistance to same stems in many ways from my feeling deep down that my poor gadget will feel abandoned and cast aside for the younger model.
Regardless, the time came after four blissful years with my iPhone, that my formerly reliable equipment was no longer so reliable. It just no longer worked. It would reboot at random, never get a good signal, and froze up regularly. Sadly, the day came when I could no longer give the excuse of “It works just fine for me.” I had to bite the bullet and get a new phone.
I will not go into the details of that painful drama. With shaking hands and sweaty palms, I discussed and made arrangements with my telecommunications provider to get a new phone. Those of you out there that relish the excitement of new tech in your life cannot possibly understand my anxiety and stress over what must seem to most a very simple, though costly, transaction. However, by the end of the day, the deed was done. A new phone was mine. Herein lays the unexpected snag…
I have for many, many… I shan’t say how many years carried my mobile device in a holster. This is a pouch that attaches to a belt or waistband and into which you can put your phone. I found that it was also handy for carrying the most frequently used of my wallet denizens, driver’s license, ATM card, insurance card, etc. As you might expect, the holster was in about the same condition as the old phone. Sure enough, it disintegrated shortly after the new phone came into use (possibly died of grief, who knows).
Now, these days, it seems most people have their phones surgically attached to their hands. Seriously, this is merely from observation that no one seems to be able to put the darn things down. I have noticed that some folks pocket phones or maybe have them in voluminous purses, but primarily, the devices appear to be constantly in use or held in the hand. How do these people go to the bathroom?!?
I am not of the ilk to have phone in hand at all times, and not all of my fashion choices have pockets. I ceased carrying purses long ago as I had a tendency to leave them wherever I hung them over a chair or happened to set them down. Needless to say, I have been reliant on my handy holster for many years. When my old one disintegrated, therefore, I had absolutely no suspicion that this was the serious loss that it became. I figured, “I’ll just buy a new one.” Oh hell no… Did you know that there are about a metric blue-billion different colored, designed, bedazzled, blingged-out Otterboxes on the market? Did you?!? There are. I walked into the first store, and the young man working there became completely baffled when I asked for a holster. With his head on one side like an inquisitive dog, he proceeded to show me the varying array of rubberized phone condoms that I could choose. “No, I want a holster.” I was told that they had nothing like that, but wouldn’t I like a nice fuchsia Hello Kitty Otterbox? I managed to escape minus Hello Kitty, rhinestones, or glitter. I continued my search in a variety of office supply and technology gizmo stores. With every stop along the way, my spirit became more and more dejected. The lowest point of the day was when a store employee shortly out of his infancy and looking no more than 12 years of age informed me that he didn’t believe anyone made holsters anymore, because no one of the current technology age used them anymore. He hadn’t seen one in “ages,” and wouldn’t I like a nice Otterbox?
Now feeling even more like a relic of a bygone age, I was close to tears as I approached the last bastion of hope. I dared not meet the eyes of the staff who were likely young enough to be my offspring. However, I recollected myself enough to notice that a nice gentleman (who looked to be at least past puberty) holding the door open for me. I meekly asked if they carried holsters… AND they DID! I was giddy and in tears as I purchased my lovely leather holster and found that it fit my new phone with space for cards. It seems that despite my advanced age, I must not be entirely alone in my quest for an efficient carrying method for my phone.
Why, you may ask, is this particular article in The New Cheese? Isn’t TNC supposed to be about professional stuff? Yes indeed it is. Here is why. It is not only to free up my dexterity that I prefer to use a holster instead of a colorful rubber phone condom.
It has become common practice to keep your mobile phone permanently in your hand. People sit in social circumstances with their devices constantly before their eyes, consulting them approximately every one or two minutes. Sadly, this is the status of our society today. We spend every moment incapable of being separated from the electronics.
Most professionals holding positions of responsibility in any organization will have one or more electronic devices connecting them with the plethora of information sources on the internet, their staff, and their customers. Today, the instantaneous access to any individual has created the expectation that all employees, managers, and leaders have their phones on at all times. Phones remain in hands or on conference tables immediately visible to anyone present. However, many individuals in the modern workplace believe this expectation gives them license to have their mobile devices permanently attached to their hands in all environments and situations.
True professionalism involves basic civility and manners. What do mobile phones have to do with this? In interviews, meetings, business discussions, and trainings, people deserve the attention of their target audience. Distractions such as incoming phone calls, text messages, and social media notifications detract from the interaction and give the impression of disinterest, immaturity, lack of focus, and unprofessional conduct.
Be a professional. Presenters, trainers, and potential employers or employees deserve your respect and full attention. Holster the phone, iPad, or personal assistant device unless using it specifically to take notes or perform a function related to the discussion at hand. Use the silent mode. Turn off ring tones and notifications for the duration of the meeting, interview, or training. Use the “airplane” mode to suspend all potential signals until after the meeting. In the event of forgetting to silence your phone and receiving a call or message, remedy the situation by switching on silent mode and in one on one or meeting situations, apologize concisely and move on. People lived without instantaneous access for many years. You can always check messages, texts, and Facebook at a more appropriate time when you are not infringing upon the valuable time of others.
So, the moral of the story? The appearance of the professional is not enhanced by a constant barrage of incoming electronic communications on a rubber encrusted mobile device permanently ensconced in your hand. To all those currently holding or hoping to hold a professional position in some organization, with regards to your mobile phones, literally or figuratively, do yourself a favor. Present yourself in a mature and professional way… Holster It!