Is Your Cell Phone Devaluing Those You Lead?


While interviewing a potential employee for his company, a businessman ‘s phone began ringing. After the third ring, the interviewee asked, Aren’t you going to answer that?” The business glanced at the phone, then looking back to the young lady sitting across from him said, “I do not know if that phone call is important or not. I do know this interview is important to me, my business, and to you.”

With his statement, the businessman made an indelible impression that would remain with this young lady for the rest of her life.

What you pay attention to and how you respond to distractions and interruptions speaks volumes to those in your presence; your employees, volunteers, or constituents. Looking at your cell phone, the log/magazine in your hand gives an undeniable message that you do not value those in your presence. This is true informal meetings or spontaneous chats.

Beware of what your actions are conveying. It matters not if you are receiving important information in a text or interoffice memo or checking the time, each time you look at your phone, you are conveying a message to those you are with. And it is usually not the message you think. You are sending a devaluing message. In essence, you are saying, “I’m not sure what I’m going to see when I look at my hone, but it is more important to me right now than my conversation with you.

When people’s belief is that they are not valued, their trust factor in you diminishes. With diminishing trust, they will stop coming to you with issues or solutions, as in their minds they will not likely get your attention. A consequence of this is disengagement. Disengagement brings lower production and morale.

When you show the people you interact with that you value your time with them, you will experience stronger communication and team engagement. Silence your phone for a time, put it in airplane mode if you must. Who knows, your renewed conversation engagement just might make an indelible impression on someone’s life.

Other than your cell phone, what other distractions are you allowing to relay devaluing those you interact with or lead?

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at

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