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In a meeting with a woman? For pity's sake DON'T READ THIS

Just put that gadget away, or she's liable to do one

Photo by Heather Sorenson / sxc.hu

Are you reading this on a small gizmo or gadget of some kind? Take a look around, my friend. Are you in a meeting, a luncheon, or some other situation of that kind? Are there ladies present (other than yourself, should you happen to be one?)

If so - stop reading now, put away your fondleslab or mobe (don't just lay it down, either: conceal it somewhere about your person and turn the sound off) and attempt to counterfeit an impression that you are paying attention. Read this later.

If all is clear, however, read on.

Topflight soft-studies academics have discovered, by means of a survey among business professionals, that attitudes to gadget use in such contexts as meetings, lunches or other gatherings vary widely. Not only do young and old, rich and poor see things differently: the sexes, as ever perhaps, take very different positions on what's acceptable gadget-wise.

We are told, by Southern California uni mouthpieces Amy Blumenthal and Suzanne Wu, that:

The world may be increasingly uncivil, and the workplace is no exception.

The two are informing us of research by professor Peter Cardon, who "teaches management communication, international business communication, and advanced business writing". He has a PhD in Business Education, and his job title is "associate professor of clinical management communication at the USC Marshall School of Business Center for Management Communication".

Professor Cardon and his colleagues have discovered that

Three out of four people – 76 percent – said checking texts or emails was unacceptable behavior in business meetings.

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.

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.

“Hiring managers often cite courtesy as among the most important soft skills they notice. By focusing on civility, young people entering the workforce may be able to set themselves apart,” adds Cardon.

So there you have it. Stay alert: if there are women (or old or wealthy people) about, and you're supposed to be paying attention to them, at least pretend to be doing so. If it's just impecunious young men you're probably OK to get your gadget out, though there is, of course, presumably some risk they will steal it.

Full details on the fuzzy-studies research are here. ®

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