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Consulting the PDA

Put Down That PDA!

The Dangers of Secretly Texting

If you want to short cut your career, just pull out that PDA.

(*note: PDA means Personal Digital Assistant whether it's an iPhone, Blackberry, Samsung...)

Why can the quick check of that PDA be so hurtful?

Consider this.  We’ve all been in conversations with people who look elsewhere while talking with us. It’s irritating because it appears that they’re looking for someone more important to meet, or just plain aren’t focused on the conversation at hand. It’s rude. Translating this to the sneak check of the Blackberry, we’ve just done the same thing.  We’ve taken our focus off the subject at hand, effectively insulting the party running the meeting or the person across the table.

PDAs are no different from any other new technology, and guidelines as to expectations and usage must be set. The constant access provided by PDAs means that they can easily lead us to become consumed by work during all hours. By not encouraging people to maintain a good work-life balance, productivity suffers, and employees become so involved in responding to messages that they may act in ways that can be career-damaging – and potentially even hazardous – such as:

  • Viewing and responding to email while in meetings
  • Having sound reminders that go off while in meetings or public events
  • Having long sound reminder themes that play loudly – no one needs to hear a full song every time you receive an email
  • Reading email while attempting to have a conversation
  • Playing videos and other sounds loudly
  • Typing while you are walking or driving

All is not lost however... If you follow a clear set of guidelines, however, PDA technology becomes a powerful ally that can actually enhance your career:

  • Show respect for meeting organizers and avoid annoying your colleagues by turning off your PDA before the meeting starts and keeping it out of sight.
  • If you're waiting for an urgent call or email, inform the meeting organizer in advance that you may have excuse yourself for a moment to attend to an urgent matter.
  • When in a meeting, having a one-to-one conference, or at a restaurant, do not put the PDA on the table or check it in the middle of a conversation – it gives the impression that the PDA is more important than the subject at hand.
  • When you need to type a message, excuse yourself and find a private place to do it.
  • Set the ring tone volume only as high as you absolutely need, and avoid ring themes that are lengthy or annoying.
  • Turn all ring tones off when the lights go down whether you're at the movies, at a concert, or at any other public event.
  • Take control of your PDA, not the other way around. Decide when you are going to turn it off so that you can focus on your family, your hobby, or your spouse – and leave it off.
  • Never text while driving. Never check or read email while driving. Never search your address book for contacts while driving. The consequences could be devastating – and not just for you.

As with any other tool, when used with appropriate guidelines, PDAs have the potential to increase efficiency and productivity. But if you’re not careful, the constant connectivity they provide can quickly become all-consuming. Make sure that you’re taking the appropriate steps to ensure that you’re mastering the tools, and not the other way around.

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