Christine Pearson with the New York Times published an interesting article concerning the revelations they unearthed through a study of data gathered on more than 9,000 managers and workers across the United States. Christine defines incivility as behavior, seemingly inconsequential to the doer, that others perceive as inconsiderate.
This morning I witnessed 2 colleagues having breakfast and observed the younger colleague spending most of his time texting and emailing. The older gentleman tried to initialize conversation several times while his colleague rudely made no eye contact and continued directing his attention to his electronic device. Clearly the older gentleman was annoyed and most likely feeling snubbed! As Christine stated this kind of offense can take on a new edge when the winner is a machine!
Many will view you as inconsiderate if you ignore your colleagues while jabbering on the cell phone, keeping others waiting for an appointment while you check your email or send something electronically that should be delivered in person.
I have an agent in our office that I respect and like personally very much. However, whenever she rides with me on propery tour she uses it as a chance to make all her phone calls while the rest of us are trying to enjoy some bonding time! It forces us to tone our voices down and inhibits our conversation because we are forced to listen to her conversation. I now try not to have her ride in my car as the disruption is irritating!
Colleagues interpret these snubs as: "You are less important to me than my cell phone." In Christine's research she found when employees behave in a rude way, retribution may take place. Those snubbed may withhold information - for example, by "forgetting" to include the offender's name on a final product. Or they might see to it that he or she ends up with a less desirable task next time. Or they may refuse to work with that person again.
We all are guilty at one time or another for being inconsiderate with our electronic devices. We all need to keep our own use of electronic devices at a minimum when interacting with others. If you an urgent need to use one, let the others know.
If you are on the receiving end of an electronic disappearing act and want face-to-face attention, politely ask for it. Setting an example can't hurt and may be the best way to get the one-on-one interaction we all like to engage in for meaningful relationships.