Have you noticed this? There’s a rash of people wandering around wearing earphones – not the big ol’ over the ear jobbies, but the little ones with the thin white cord – AND talking very loudly to someone who one assumes is on the other end of the phone. Now is it just me or do you think these people are behaving like dumb apes? Clearly if there’s no phone conversation happening then they’re just mad, M.A.D, mad!
I’m sure we can all remember the marvellous Dom Joly’s take on this – I’ll admit to copying it on the New York subway one January many years ago – much to the bemusement of the Americans who hadn’t seen Trigger Happy TV back then!!
Well it is still going on and in some ways it’s much worse. Worse you say? Even though the adoption of mobile phones is almost total? Yes definitely worse.
The advancement of technology is such that you no longer need to physically hold aphone to your ear to have the conversation and the adoption of mobile technology as the premier communication channel means that all sorts of inane conversations are happening – all around you…look!
And that’s partly why the situation has got worse. It used to be that telling someone, loudly, on your mobile phone was seen by the people did it as a symbol of success, of power and their own importance. Well not anymore! The routine day to day banality that you can overhear is mind-numbingly tedious- it’s verbal diarrhea of the worst kind!!
In a study published sometime in 2010 this phenomenon was termed a “halfalogue” and that sums it up brilliantly – you have to listen, well whilst the individual is in earshot anyway, to one half of a dialogue and the study found that to be extremely distracting – no sh*t Sherlock! And believe me since 2010 it’s got a lot worse – as Deloitte showed in their 2017 survey
So why do these people do it?
In 2013 Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. wrote the following:
“…people feel that talking on the cell phone somehow isolates them from the people in their immediate vicinity. The deeper they get into their conversations, the more removed they feel from those who are physically present and the more engaged they become in the conversation itself. Unfortunately for them, and for their unwilling listeners, they are anything but isolated.”
Too damn right Dr Whitbourne!!
Is there a solution? Well clearly there are tactics to stop this…
…this video has been watched over 15million times!!
But humour aside thankfully we can turn to “The Gentleman’s Gazette” for a solution written back in December 2015.
- Employ the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. Expect that less self-aware companions may not reciprocate.
Treat in-person interactions as sacrosanct.
- Is something worth leaving the room for? You probably wouldn’t excuse yourself from a room just to peruse news updates, so save anything not requiring an immediate response for later.
- That being said, excuse yourself when needed. If you get an urgent work call at dinner with friends, take it in another room or outside the restaurant to avoid holding up everyone else’s conversation.
- In the office, mirror the behavior of an esteemed colleague if no cell phone policy has been created. However, keep your ringer off and your phone in your pocket during conversations and meetings.
- Avoid talking on your phone in close quarters with strangers – elevators, planes, bathrooms, trains, etc., where other people will be forced to hear your every word.