Excuse me, I have to take this call could be the last words that you say in your next business meeting.  Recent research has shown that many people view using your smartphone during business meetings as offensive or unprofessional.

A new study co-authored by Peter W. Cardon of the USC Marshall School of Business and colleagues at Howard University is the first to provide an empirical baseline for how attitudes towards mobile phone use actually break down across gender, age and region.  The study found that women, more than men, found the use of cell phones as offensive during a business meeting.  Moreover, older workers found the use of the smartphone more offensive than younger workers.  Here are a few of the findings:

  • Three out of four people — 76 percent — said checking texts or emails was unacceptable behavior in business meetings.
  • 87 percent of people said answering a call was rarely or never acceptable in business meetings.
  • Even at more informal business lunches, the majority of people thought writing a text message is rude — 66 percent said writing or sending a text message is inappropriate.
  • Men were nearly twice as likely as women to consider mobile phone use at a business lunch acceptable. More than 59 percent of men said it was okay to check text messages at a power lunch, compared to 34 percent of women who thought checking texts was appropriate.
  • Similarly, 50 percent of men said it was acceptable to answer a call at a power lunch, compared to 26 percent of women.
  • Despite the casual reputation, professionals from the West Coast were less accepting of mobile phone use in meetings than people from the East Coast.
  • Higher-income professionals had less tolerance for smartphone use in business meetings.
  • Dramatic age gap: Younger professionals were nearly three times as likely as older professionals to think tapping out a message over a business lunch is appropriate — 66 percent of people under 30 said texting or emailing was okay, compared to just 20 percent of those aged 51-65.
  • At a working lunch with five other people? Chances are, just having your phone out is offending somebody: A full 20 percent of professionals said simply having your phone out at a business lunch is rude.
  • Saying “Excuse me” to take a call didn’t cut it: over 30 percent still found it to be rarely/never appropriate during informal/offsite lunch meetings.

This finding has a direct correlation to mediations.  Indeed, isn’t a mediation just another form of business meeting?  Do you want to take the chance that someone in your mediation considers your phone usage offensive and thus turns off to the message you are suggesting?


Source: University of Southern California (2013, October 24). Reading this in a meeting? Women twice as likely as men to be offended by smartphone use.ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­