No doubt, we have all done this at some point. You are on the phone with someone and think, why not multitask. Send off a quick email, look up that restaurant you have been dying to try, or check out the latest celebrity news. It will only take a second, right? But what about the person on the other end of the phone. Surely they can hear the soft tap, tap, tap…of your keyboard. Someone who knows you well can speak up and ask, “What is that in the background? It sounds like you are typing.” Busted! Do you confess, deny, redirect the conversation, or fess up? In reality, whether we are tapping a keyboard, clicking a mouse, or heaven forbid, chewing, others can hear it over the phone, and know they don’t have our full attention. They can feel the distraction in how we respond to them.
It’s not too late to make a New Year’s Resolution to be attentive to the person on the other end of the phone. Make a pact with yourself to resist the temptation to multitask and set aside digital distractions. If you must cough or sneeze, cover the phone with your hand and excuse yourself, and eat either before or after your phone call, not during. Practice good etiquette, good manners, and re-commit to taking an interest in the person you are calling and give them your complete attention.
Giving credit to the Culture and Manners Institute at http://www.cultureandmanners.com/ is the polite thing to do.