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11 posts from April 2010

April 06, 2010

Should you talk business on your cell?

Today I was at the bank waiting in line. A man behind me in line was talking business on his cell. Certainly the advantage of cell phones are that you can do business from anywhere. But should you?

The man clearly was a general contractor. It was obvious to me he was talking to a subcontractor. In the 5-10 minutes we were in line, I heard all about where he was going to cut corners, what he was going to charge the client, how he paid the subcontractor in cash last time and why that wouldn't work this time. In other words, I knew too much information or TMI as my kids would say.

The whole incident made me think about work life balance. We have this amazing technology that lets us work from anywhere, even while we do our personal errands. It's now up to us to create boundaries.  But clearly, we stink at it. This guy should have gone outside in private to have his conversation. You never really know who is listening when you have a work-related conversation in public. The more you get absorbed in conversation, the less you are aware of who's around you when you are talking. To me, it's completely unprofessional and could create risk for your business. 

Now, I admit to having work conversations in public places. I have interviewed people for stories while at the grocery store. But typically, I will go outside the store or move to a private area where no one can hear me. I have heard some pretty unbelievable conversations that involve confidential company information standing next to someone in the coffee line. Should there be company rules about talking business on cell phones in public? Why do you think people say things loudly when talking on a cell that they would say in hushed whispers over a lunch table?