• Susie Wilson

Civility Matters


The use of mobile-cellphones constitutes an important and frequently occurring form of disrespectful behaviour within our workplaces. Leaders can benefit from putting away their technology when meeting with their team members, either individually or collectively. This can elevate the level of civility within your immediate sphere of influence. Better yet instil smartphone free meetings and encourage others to follow suit.

Recent research suggests that smartphones undermine our capacity to connect with other people. In a fascinating study, researchers were interested to see how the mere presence of a smartphone affected the conversational and relational dynamics between two individuals. To test this idea, two conditions were created. In one group, participants engaged in a 15-minute conversation at an empty table. In the second, an electronic communication device was placed in plain view.

The results revealed that the mere presence of a mobile device negatively affected the level of trust between parties. The quality of the relationship was also rated significantly lower when a cellphone was present. An especially important finding was that the impacts of the cellphone were particularly pronounced when the individuals were engaged in meaningful/deeper conversation as opposed to casual conversation.


Transmitting messages through electronic means compromises our ability to leverage vital interpretation sources, such as body language and tone of voice, which sets the stage for miscommunication. If executives are at all unsure of how a message will be interpreted, it is highly recommended that he or she pick up the phone or, better yet, set up an in-person meeting. While it may require a larger time commitment in the short-term, it is worth the long-term time savings associated with avoiding a potentially intense future conflict.

#civility #Business #Smartphones #Leadership #Etiquette