Workplace meetings are important. Studies show that collaboration in the workplace (meaning, when two or more people communicate to share ideas and achieve common goals) leads to all types of beneficial and excellent outcomes. From increased staff member retention to coming-up with more effective decisions, plans, and solutions, collaboration works. And while collaboration can happen in a variety of communication channels – face-to-face, virtual, real-time, or asynchronous – research findings clearly state that face-to-face interactions are the most productive. We engage more and better in face-to-face settings and we communicate more deeply in those settings.
So, we need face-to-face meetings and most will agree we need them to be as productive as possible.
Here, then, is a simple, yet powerful way to make all of your upcoming meetings more meaningful, engaging, and productive. It doesn’t cost any money. No one will have to go to any training. And, it is something you can start doing right now.
Keep your mobile phone completely out of sight during your meetings.
That’s it. Don’t bring your mobile phone into sight. Keep it in your pocket, your purse, or wherever it will be out of sight. Of course you also should silence the ringer. But that isn’t enough. MIT sociologist, Sherry Turkle’s latest book, “Reclaiming Conversation,” is based on her 20+ year study of the impacts of technology on social engagement. And one small, yet important, finding is that when a mobile phone is placed on a table – even face down and silenced – during a conversation or meeting, people report that the conversation deteriorates. In fact, 82% of people say that!
Here’s why professor Turkle says introducing technology into face-to-face conversations is troublesome:
“If you put a cell phone into a social interaction, it does two things: First, it decreases the quality of what you talk about, because you talk about things where you wouldn’t mind being interrupted, which makes sense, and, secondly, it decreases the empathic connection that people feel toward each other.”
So, for your next meeting. Or, perhaps, for all of your meetings, do yourself and your institution a favor – keep the mobile phones hidden. Not only will you become more productive and effective. You also will engage your colleagues in a deeper and more meaningful way.