Sensible Cell Phone Usage: How to be Enlightened vs. Entrapped

As business professionals, we know that selecting and using the right tools goes a long way towards helping us accomplish our goals. And for the majority of us, cell phone usage is an absolute necessity. In fact, many have become so dependent on it that they can’t even fathom functioning without a cell phone. The dilemma is that once we become dependent on a tool, it can become a slippery slope. Why, you might ask? The answer is that we run the risk of losing our perspective about its value and may either overuse it or use it to the exclusion of other equally valuable tools. This contributes to being “entrapped,” and that doesn’t serve anyone well. So what’s the alternative?

The alternative is to broaden our perspective and revisit how sensibly we’re using cell phones, which leads back to the other part of this article title of becoming “enlightened.” It’s analogous to being so close to a problem or situation that you can’t really see what’s happening. Let’s consider the following 3 pointers on confidentiality, time management and courtesy:

1. Confidentiality:

Your clients want the confidence of knowing that what you know and say about their business is protected information, particularly if propriety is a factor. If you’re conducting a business call with your cell phone in a public setting, are you running the risk of revealing important details about your client’s business matters to those who are within earshot? One of the reasons I raise this is that I’ve been on the receiving end of hearing a cell phone user’s conversation in an airport, which as we know is quite common. During that time I was privy to financial data and strategic ideas that frankly were none of my business. Of course we don’t know if the other party was aware that others were hearing this conversation but we can safely assume that this would not be an acceptable practice.

The solution is to carefully assess the content of your call in advance and determine if it requires a private location.

2. Time Management:

In the business world, no one would argue that time is money, particularly your clients and business contacts. With that in mind, many people prefer to multitask and will conduct business calls while driving or conducting other tasks from which they feel they can divert their attention.

I know that I’ve had several clients call me from their cell phones while driving, for follow-up or consultation. It makes good sense to them but here’s the problem—inevitably they drive through an area where they can’t get a strong signal and end up with a high level of static on the line or worse yet, they get disconnected. From my perspective and hopefully from theirs, this is pretty frustrating and a huge waste of precious time. They have to keep calling back and then hope that we can pick up where we left off in the conversation, which sometimes isn’t easily accomplished. Additionally, it’s often hard to be easily heard in some areas where cell phones are used so it requires more work to listen.

The solution is to keep cell phone calls shorter and only initiate them when you’re confident you will not lose the caller and that you can be heard easily.

3. Courtesy:

Your clients chose you because of the way you treat them and that includes the belief that they are a priority, or at least that’s the goal! When you meet with your clients and have your phone readily accessible to either accept calls or even to check to see who’s calling, it may have a negative impact. For that matter, if you wear an earpiece during a client meeting it makes a clear statement that you’re either anticipating a call or so busy that you must always be accessible to others. If that’s the case, what do you think happens to that feeling of being a priority? You’re right…it’s a definite risk that your clients will feel like they’ve dropped a few notches!

The solution is to keep your cell phone somewhere out of sight and on vibrate. That way if you absolutely must be in touch, you can politely excuse yourself but even so I would think twice about this because you have to ask yourself how distracted you’ll be when your cell phone vibrates, signaling that someone is contacting you.

These 3 pointers are designed to guide you towards sensible cell phone usage; feeling less entrapped and more enlightened!

By: Dale G. Klein, M.A., Corporate Communication & Speech Specialist Profitable Speech, LLC A Sound Investment® 518-664-6004