Thursday, February 10, 2011

Are good manners important in this high tech environment?

Are we becoming inconsiderate while staying "connected?"

“Hi, I am Rod Mattson,” I said while extending my hand to the saleswoman as she entered my office.  She put her smart phone into her left hand and extended her right hand. We shook hands.  She introduced herself.  I motioned for her to sit down at a round table and rather than sitting behind my desk, I sat at the round table too.

“I was expecting you about 35 minutes ago.”

“Oh, I am so sorry, I got behind on a couple of earlier appointments, and I’ve never been to this part of town.  Again, I am very sorry.”

“No need to apologize.” I said, “I have used the time productively, it’s just that our meeting will have to be a little shorter, is that OK with you?”  She graciously agreed. 

We shortened the small talk and got down to business.  She began to tell me about her products.  She represented a publishing company and began telling me about the publications that would help my business.  Skillfully, she was talking in terms of my benefits.

“These books offer the latest information on communication training, ideas for curriculum, and group exercises.”  She continued, “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here.  Rather than developing customized training, you can spend your time marketing, while doing your training, and other revenue producing activities.  This will take the burden of writing and customizing off your schedule.”

“What’s that?” I inquired.

“We publish and distribute communication training material.  That’s what you do, right?

“Yeah, but, what’s that?

“Communication training material?  It is books, workbooks, leader’s guides and pamphlets on communication training programs.”

“What is that?” I insisted.

“Mr. Mattson, am I missing something here?  I represent (the name of her publishing company) and we specialize in training material.”

“No, I’m asking what is that?” I repeated while again pointing at the smart phone in her hand observing her fingers flying all over the key pad as we spoke.  This is the first time she looked up at me.  She was talking and texting at the same time and we were not communicating clearly as I asked about her phone while pointing at it.  She did not see my nonverbal communication; therefore, she thought I was asking about what she was saying, not what she was doing.  She became frustrated, embarrassed, and defensive.

“Oh, I’m sorry, this is my smart phone and I was texting my next appointment telling her I was running late, and texting my boyfriend that I couldn’t met him for lunch today as I  was running to far behind.  That’s rude isn’t it?”

I respectfully responded, “That is a judgment call on your part.”

I wasn’t sure what to do; but, looking at this disheveled lady, who clearly set 10 hours worth of appointments into an 8 hour day, I decided I wasn’t going to do business with her.

So I stood up, offered her my hand and politely said, “Thanks for coming in; however, I have an appointment at the top of the hour and I must go over my preparation before the meeting.”

She looked bewildered, took my hand and walked out of the office.  About 10 minutes later, I got an email from her:

Mr. Mattson, i hope i didn’t ofend u…r u mad at me for texting while talking to u…pleez give me another chance, i won’t use my phone in front of u

Maybe I am old school; however, I am sure most of you would agree with me that good manners are important.  Clearly she still doesn’t know what she did wrong and probably thinks I am a jerk.  However, this happens more times than I care to count.  She probably thought she had good manners by letting her next appointment and her boyfriend know that she was running late.

What would you have done if you were her, or if you were me?  Was I rude too?

1 comment:

  1. No you were not rude at all. Utilizing the multi-tasking article posted when we multi-task we are actually doing little. In this situation it seemed she was doing just that. Communication wasn't there or it was really poor. Her focus was on telling her future appointments she would be late so therefore her attention was not fully on you and her. You normally do that before the next meeting or reschedule to another date. It's just common courtesy. If I were her I would have prioritized the days appointments and see which ones I could possibly reschedule. Definately been to the appointments on time. When I walk into a meeting my phone either gets turned off or put on silent-it goes away so my total focus is on the subject at hand (cell phone courtesy). People these days don't have that respect and courtesy for others. She was definately rude. I believe you were in the right for doing what you did.