The email with last week’s question – is it okay to use my phone during the meeting so I can complete a Referral Record – contained a second and opposite inquiry:
We have a Member who is frequently on the phone during the meeting.
Any polite way to get this person to stop?
We’re each running a small business and sometimes
expect a message, but not many times, during every meeting.
Is this just something I should stop thinking about?
There’s a fork in the road for the answer.
Let’s begin with the road.
We judge ourselves by our intentions.
Others judge us by our behaviors.
I promise you the phone user thinks one of two things:
- they are being so surreptitious that no one notices when they check their phone,
- their behavior is boosting their credibility because it proves they give always-on customer service.
How can I be sure that’s what they’re thinking?
I’ve thought it.
I was the first person I knew with a laptop. I took it to PowerCore meetings and typed InfoMinutes. So I was shocked, astounded, amazed to learn that no one thought I was listening to their InfoMinutes: they thought I was working during the meeting. And that impression, that I was paying more attention to my clients than to them, did NOT work to my advantage.
Even though 2016 is decades later, the rules of human attention haven’t changed. If my eyes aren’t on the speaker, the speaker has to be able to see what I’m doing. Now I go old school with a [fountain] pen and paper. And even though everyone now carries a tiny computer with 3926 times the ram of my original laptop [I told you it was decades ago] humans haven’t been upgraded. Humans want to feel interesting. Humans want to feel important. Humans get those feelings when we see eyes.
Which brings us to the available forks in the road for the question “Is there any polite way to get this person to stop, and do I have the right to request it?”
Is there any polite way to get this person to stop.
Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products, shared some thoughts on how to get people to do things they don’t want to do. Why is this relevant? Because the phone user is hooked on the habit of looking at the phone, and is not willingly going to change. Not even when they know checking the screen is costing them referral points.
Some link surfing got me to some research on how to have a conversation that changes people’s minds. Short version: stop after four back-and-forths. At their fifth response they are not going to change and are getting angry with you. Stop before then.
Check out this, too: Why Is It So Hard To Persuade People With Facts? from The British Psychological Society.
Last week Eric Barker pointed me to some research specifically about addictive cell phone use, but here’s another description from the same researcher. Remember: we are not able to diagnose – but we are able to be gentle – perhaps the phone user is truly uncomfortable during the meeting.
Do I have the right to request this person to stop.
In one, and only one circumstance.
When this person considers you to be at the center of their bulls-eye.
The bulls-eye has six rings
- Graze – where you don’t know them
- Grin – where you recognize them, but don’t remember their name
- Greet – where you know them, and what they do
- Generate – where you respond to requests for referrals by suggesting them
- GateOpener – where you initiate referral conversations about them
- Guardian – where you care so much about them you are willing to have the hard conversations that put your relationship at risk.
So, here’s what I would do if I really, really, liked this person. [I’d have to really like them.] Taking a cue from Phil Pennartz, I’d have a walking conversation – I would not do this sitting down – I’d arrange to be walking to the car together so the conversation could end quickly. I would use Arryn Simone’s Three Sentence Formula for Difficult Conversations:
- The other person’s point of view
- A fact
- The behavior you want in the future.
It might sound like:
- “Pat, I notice you have a lot of phone activity in the morning during the meeting.
- When Members see you looking at your phone, they don’t think you’re interested in what’s happening at the meeting — so they don’t think you’ll give referrals, which means they won’t think they owe you any.
- If you want referrals from the Team you’ll want to leave your phone in the car.”
Then I would:
- stick out my hand, shake hands, smile, and say – “See you next week”,
- make it a point to sit beside them next week so they know we’re friends,
- and never bring it up again.
A little extra:
If you’ve gotten this far I’m betting you are not on your screen during the meeting. But, if you are — there are stories, lots of stories, about meeting screen users, and none of the stories have dollar signs around them. Also, if you’re in your first 90-days of membership, screen use during the meeting is one of the three most common reasons a MembershipCore does not invite a 90-day Protege to renew.
So if you’re a Mentor, or one of the first to have coffee with new Members, share this so they don’t twist their ankle in this pothole.