Tuesday, June 03, 2008

BlackBerry Abuse


PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) devices have created a world of instant communications. Thanks to these “Smartphones,” we can now phone, text message, IM, eMail, surf the Internet and more … whenever and wherever we want.

The good news is PDA devices, such as the BlackBerry, now empower us to communicate needs and solve problems so effectively, that their use is expanding geometrically and globally. The bad news is these devices are so addictive, that “BlackBerry Abuse” has become commonplace.

BlackBerry users are now offending Non-BlackBerry users, in much the same way as Smokers have historically offended Non-Smokers. For example, it used to be commonplace to see people light up a cigarette during a meeting, and after a meal … until it became the custom to wait for an appropriate moment to excuse oneself to smoke elsewhere.

Today, BlackBerry Abuse is not just occurring during meetings and meals … but also during church, weddings, plays and other events where even the heaviest of smokers would have refrained from smoking. It is becoming so common that the terms “CrackBerry” and “CrackBerry Addict,” are now being used to describe BlackBerry Abusers. Additionally, the act of “Texting” during a meal or meeting, with head bowed, and device hidden from others’ view, just below the table top … is now referred to as, “The BlackBerry Prayer.”

RIM, the company that created the BlackBerry, has a mission to motivate people to buy and use the BlackBerry. Here is your first clue to the scope and impact of BlackBerry Abuse. Many RIM executives and managers, the people who have been using the BlackBerry the longest, do not allow the use of a BlackBerry at a BlackBerry meeting … unless it is required for a specific presentation.

As good as PDA devices are at communicating a conscious message to one person, they can be equally effective at delivering an unconscious message to another. Unfortunately, these unconscious messages are actually negating positive results for many Blackberry users, and creating new problems where none existed before.

My purpose is to help you to identify and overcome your conscious and unconscious BlackBerry Abuses, which actually cause or contribute to misunderstanding, confusion, and even resentment. Now, more than ever, it is critical to know the true meanings of your communications. The ultimate question becomes, “Is your BlackBerry usage, or your resistance to the BlackBerry usage of others, creating teamwork or turmoil?”

Bottom line, criticizing the BlackBerry user for being rude, is just as ineffective as criticizing the Non-BlackBerry user for being “behind the times.” When everybody is right, but nobody is happy … results and relationships suffer.

When the DEVICE becomes DIVISIVE, it is time to take leadership.

The truth is that BlackBerry Abuse only occurs when we become ... Hurried, Worried, Over-Analytical, or Controlling. Recognizing that others will feel abused when we adopt one of these characteristics is the first step. Only then, can we discover and implement solutions to this growing problem.

You have your own preferences and perceptions. But, so does everyone else. What is the real message you give others when …

· You interrupt someone to check an incoming text message?

· You say it is OK for someone to take a call … but you are filled with resentment when they do so?

· You tune others out at a meeting, or a meal, to text message someone in the “BlackBerry Prayer” position?

· You try to control others, “For their own good,” by forcing them NOT to use their BlackBerry during a meeting … or by forcing them to keep their BlackBerry ON, even after normal working hours.

Are you aware that other people can mis-interpret your actions as a lack of awareness, or insecurity, or disinterest, or even that you lack faith in them? If any of your customers, clients, co-workers, bosses, friends, or relatives are having any of these perceptions about you … then ultimately, how will it affect you?

Lets look deeper.

Please note as you proceed, that everyone will exhibit ALL FOUR of the following BlackBerry Abuses from time to time. Nevertheless, as creatures of habit, one of these behaviors will occur for you more often than the others.

Also, by recognizing what may be going on underneath the surface when you observe BlackBerry Abuse in others, you will be far more effective at game planning a solution … than by simply trying to deny, resent, ignore, or control the situation.

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“The Circle” – HURRIED

Triggered when you feel that you have made a mistake, or are OVER-COMMITTED.

Your Perception: You need to fix a mistake, or are impossibly behind schedule.

Typical thoughts, statements or behaviors:
Look at the time!
I can’t talk now!
Telling me you were right, does NOT help the situation.
If I hurry, I can just make it.
Didn’t I send it?
I can’t find what they sent me!
So & So is gonna love this joke!
Oh My God! WHAT DID I DO! ... I am in so much trouble!

You can be perceived by others to be:
Last minute
Seat of the pants

True Story:
My friend got a joke that he wanted to send to his female boss … so he just hit FWD. Then, he read the rest of the email, which contained a very sick and sexist joke. It nearly cost him his job.

True Story:
An executive was told to layoff 500 workers, and spent all day in committee on this task. When he got the final list from his secretary, he was caught in traffic … so he decided to FWD the list to his boss, but sent it to EVERYONE on his email list instead. Imagine the chaos in that company the next day.

DO’s and DON’Ts … when feeling HURRIED:
1. Double check EVERYTHING
2. Be Safe. Never FORWARD. Instead, Copy & Paste, and then Send.
3. Select ring tones that will not embarrass you at the wrong time

When feeling a need to do something very quickly, always remember:
1. When you FAIL to PLAN ... you PLAN to FAIL.
2. Why is it that there never seems to be enough time to get the job done, but always enough time to fix a mistake?

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“The Square” – WORRIED

Triggered when you feel RESPONSIBLE for the feelings of others.

Your Perception: You are trying to keep the peace, or to spare someone’s feelings.

Typical thoughts, statements or behaviors:
If I answer the phone, will it offend who I am with?
If I don’t answer the phone … could I miss something important?
You say, “Sure, its ok to take the call.” But, you are thinking, “I can’t believe it, he did it AGAIN.”
Here we go again. Everything is more important than I am.
Me? Upset? No, I’m fine … I’m really fine … really.

You can be perceived by others to be:

True Story:
A man was fired when he failed to answer an important call, because he did not want to offend his co-worker.

True Story:
My wife interviewed a man who was so worried about offending his wife, that he answered her Non-Emergency Text Messages DURING the interview … THREE times. My wife could not risk him doing the same thing to a prospect or customer, so this otherwise skilled professional, did NOT get the job.

DO’s and DON’Ts … when feeling RESPONSIBLE for the feelings of others:
1. Turn off your BlackBerry and check messages AFTER lunch or a meeting.
2. Have others turn off their BlackBerry as well …
3. Otherwise, make clear agreements with others regarding BlackBerry usage
4. If not turned off, leave BlackBerry on table … IN FULL VIEW.

When tempted to make your Feelings secondary to the Feelings of others, always remember:
1. Your FEELINGS are as important as anyone else’s.
2. But, as important as they are, never let your FEELINGS get in the way of your INTEGRITY. Always make clear agreements IN ADVANCE!

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“The Triangle” – OVER-ANAYLTICAL

Triggered when you feel your time is being wasted, or you are CONSUMED with a project.

Your perception: I am just trying to do my job, or I am just trying to finish this project.

Typical thoughts, statements or behaviors:
I do not need to be at this meeting. I may as well get something done.
Just how can I get anything done if this BlackBerry keeps ringing!
I would turn the thing off, but I might miss something.
I will talk with you later. I’m almost finished.
My BlackBerry helps me to stay focused on this project.
I just want to get this done right.

You can be perceived by others to be:
Too Serious

True Story:
An Insurance Adjustor, who practically invented the BLACKBERRY PRAYER, was always buried in his BlackBerry. People got so frustrated that he seemed to be uncaring, that they stopped asking for his input or help … and went to his boss instead. As a result, when a need for a department supervisor opened … although he was the most qualified for the position, he was passed over for the promotion.

1. Force yourself to TALK with someone … and do NOT be curt.
2. On the other hand, when sending messages, keep them BRIEF and to the point.
3. Except when necessary, keep your BlackBerry OFF so you can concentrate, and schedule specific times to check and answer messages … perhaps for 5 minutes at the top of every hour.
4. Except when necessary, turn OFF your BlackBerry at home.

When feeling a need to shut out others so you can think, always remember:
1. The only thing more contagious than enthusiasm is the lack of it.
2. Ignoring someone may cause a reaction that will eventually take more time to fix, than it will take to have a little chat now.

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Triggered when you feel JUDGEMENTAL

Your Perception: You are simply solving or preventing a problem.

Typical thoughts, statements or behaviors:
NO … you cannot answer that now!
JUST a minute … I have got to take this.
I’ll get you for that!
I don’t get mad … I GET EVEN!!!
The “finger” or “hand” wave-off, when taking a call.
They need to listen to me.
MY way or the Highway!!
I’m right!

You can be perceived by others to be:
Over Bearing

True Story:
A man became angry because of a bad performance review … so he emailed his resignation from the bar where he had gone to console himself. Not only did he quit the best job he ever had, he found out later that he would have gotten the big promotion despite the bad review.

True Story:
A woman was so embroiled in her conversation, while driving … that she killed my friend, Dr Jim Altman … a remarkable college professor and public speaker, as he rode his bike to class.

DO’s and DON’Ts … when feeling a need to CONTROL:
1. Create Consensus for BlackBerry Etiquette before every lunch or meeting.
2. NEVER phone or send emails when angry or drinking.
3. Never PHONE or TEXT while Driving.
4. Use Worst-Case Scenario planning, “What could go wrong?”

When feeling a need to control others, always remember:
1. People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
2. Would you rather be right … or successful?

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When HURRIED … STOP, and Double Check EVERYTHING.

When WORRIEDMake clear Agreements IN ADVANCE.




What if, by applying some of these concepts, you could create better relationships by eliminating one source of resentment … and thereby increasing the effectiveness of your whole team?

Again I ask …

Is your BlackBerry usage, or your resistance to the BlackBerry usage of others, creating teamwork or turmoil?

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James Roswell Quinn is an accomplished platform speaker, author, business consultant, executive “success” coach, and seminar facilitator. Since 1979, Quinn has presented more than 1,400 keynote addresses, corporate workshops and leadership retreats to over 150,000 people in the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand, Panama, Dubai, and the Bahamas.

His clients have included Walt Disney Feature Animation, Microtel Corporation, NAV CANADA, Pacific Mutual Life, State Farm Insurance, Lincoln National Life, R.I.T. (Rochester Institute of Technology), the Toronto Real Estate Board, ReMax Realty (in three countries), Nolan Real Estate Services, the Auckland (New Zealand) Multiple Listing Bureau, Video Law, Mitsubishi Canada, United Airlines Pilots Association, the Materiel Management Institute of Canada, and the Nightingale-Conant Corporation.

Quinn has recently released his second Self-Help Book,


With co-Authors ...
Ken Blanchard, The One Minute Manager
Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup For The Soul
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The body of Quinn's work includes:

His 8-CD Personal Audio Seminar,

The DVD of his ToastMasters Keynote Address,
The Art of Self-Control

His Self-Help book,

"Ross," as he prefers to be called, is a 1972 graduate of the University of Southern California. He and his wife Christine, and their six children make their home in beautiful Lake Summerset, Illinois.



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