Alexander Graham Bell's invention has come a long way since its prototype in 1876. The latest model of telephone requires no external wiring, fits in your pocket, takes dictation, and answers any question in seconds. For those with an iPhone, their Siri models even have a proper name. It's hard to imagine a servant that would be a greater boon to its master. Except perhaps, for no phone at all. Because while our smartphones have become our link to the world, they also disconnect us from each other. We are reminded of this whenever someone puts their cell phone face-up on the table at the restaurant (just in case someone calls) or when we try to sneak in a quick text at a stoplight.
In fact, for most of us, our compulsion to look at that little screen is so powerful that we can't go for any more than a few minutes without checking it. We jump to the angry buzz whenever it vibrates on the desk. On the rare occasion when we leave it behind, we feel naked and vulnerable.
This begs the question: who is the master in this relationship? Have we become slaves to our smartphones? And if business development is founded on human connection, how can we truly focus on the real person sitting across from us of when part of our psyche is attached to that cold rectangular piece of plastic, metal, and glass in our purse/pocket?
The other day I began a meeting with a prospective client by taking out my phone and powering it down so they could see that they were my only priority for the next hour. The client nodded and said, "That's rare—I appreciate that." I gave them my undivided attention. By the end of the meeting, they gave me their business. Strangely, when I turned my phone back on later, everything was still okay.