I’ve been thinking a lot recently about in-person conversations. A few weeks ago, I was at dinner with some friends and, with the exception of two of us, everyone was on their phones the entire time. Don’t get me wrong: I love technology as much as the next person and I love to check-in on Foursquare and tweet photos while I’m out. But we’ve gotten to the point that it’s socially acceptable to tweet, text, email, and even get up from the table to take a phone call. And this doesn’t happen just at dinner. It happens during the workday, too. In one-on-one meetings, in staff meetings, and in client meetings.

We are losing the ability to speak to one another as human beings. And it is extremely disrespectful.

Yesterday Mark Schaefer wrote about how badly he feels that someone he considers a friend has cystic fibrosis…and he had no idea. He had no idea because we all create a false sense of friendship with people we’ve met online without really getting to know them. And this goes hand-in-hand with using technology when we finally do get in front of someone. What happened to real conversations?

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m some goody two-shoes who never uses my iPhone when I’m out with friends. I do not (ever) use it when I’m with clients, but I don’t always have the self-control to leave it in my purse when with my friends. In fact, on Friday afternoon I used it to show my friend Lisa Gerber a photo of Tom Brady (how she didn’t know who he is still is beyond me, but I love her anyway!). It also comes in quite handy when you are arguing with someone and want to prove a point. But what happened to embellishing a story, just to make it more entertaining, without someone trying to prove you wrong?

It’s unacceptable for anyone at Arment Dietrich to use their phones during meetings. Now that I think about it, it’s not ever been spoken, so perhaps it’s because I don’t use mine that it’s become part of our culture. And I’d like to move that respect of one another’s time to workday meetings, as well as social outings. What do you think? Ready to make that commitment with me?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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