Q. Recently a colleague and I were eating lunch and three times the individual answered the cell phone. Each time we were in the midst of a conversation and when each call was done, my colleague said, "Okay, where were we?" I think that's just plain rude and it makes lunch much less enjoyable. It's like I am not as important as the person who is calling, even though I am the one who is present.
A. I understand what it feels like for a colleague to continually be texting or taking calls while you are trying to have a meeting—much less while eating lunch when, at least theoretically, one is supposed to be having a break from calls to give the brain and body a brief rest. And it is distracting to holding a cogent conversation when the other person (hopefully not you, too) has their phone sitting beside their plate and continually looks at it to check messages even if there is no phone call.
I read an article recently entitled "Phubbing—The Modern way to Kill Your Relationship." Phubbing, as you may know, is the label for electronic snubbing. As I read the article, my brain thought that much of what the author wrote could apply to workplace communication and encounters, as well. You might want to read it yourself, and perhaps recommend it to your colleagues. (www.spring.org.uk/2015/10/phubbing-the-modern-way-to-kill-your-relationship.php).
When I am in a meeting or eating with colleagues or friends, I make it a practice to let voice mail on my mobile phone take messages. If I am expecting a specific phone call that it is important for me to deal with immediately, I tell the others in advance that I may have to take one call. Otherwise, I concentrate on the people I am with in the present moment. After all, before mobile phones the caller had to wait to speak with me until I was back in the office. (I do realize that some people who grew up with mobile phones may never have experienced that phenomenon, however). Make no mistake, I like my mobile phone. However, I like the people I have chosen to be with in the present moment even more.