“When someone’s phone rings during a meeting, I tell them to take the call. They may look disturbed at first, but I will insist ‘yes, yes, go ahead!’”, says Paul, Vice President of a multinational organization. He tells me this after he has just answered a call himself during our coaching session.
I’m not sure about this. I mean, it’s ok if a client takes a call during a coaching session, but I turn my phone off when I coach in order to be fully present.
I hate it when phone calls continuously interrupt meetings and distract participants. “Can I call you back? I am in a meeting…” – and then the conversation goes on for at least 5 minutes. Does this sound familiar? It really gets on my nerves.
What I hate even more is having lunch with a friend, and his phone keeps him busy all the time. I’d rather eat alone, and I love the idea of The Phone Stacking Game.
“You know,” Paul continues, “I was in a meeting on a Sunday morning when my phone rang, and I was told that my teenage daughter had just died.”
— I am speechless.
“You should always answer your phone. It could be something urgent; someone might need your help right now.”
Looks like all of a sudden I am the one being coached. Abruptly my rules are turned upside down. Time to shift perspective? Should I leave my phone turned on in my next coaching sessions, and answer it when it rings?
The question keeps bothering me for a while. Later that day I have dinner with my friend Stan. When I bring up this topic, he thinks for a moment, then says with conviction: “No. Clearly no. Even if the world ends right now, it’s ok for me to learn about it later.”
Then, the evening takes a bizarre turn. My phone rings. Unknown caller. I decide to pick up the phone. It’s my mother calling from Germany. She tells me that my cousin’s wife just died. 50 years old, heart attack while jogging in the forest. Leaving a husband and three kids behind.
Once again I am speechless today. And so is Stan.
as usual: true story, fake names
This article was previously published on medium.com