Don’t Be That Blackberry Guy

You’ve met him. Or her. Glued to his Blackberry, iphone or new gizmo. Addicted to the ability to know what is going on—anywhere and at anytime. Key word here? Addicted.

Meet the quintessential Blackberry Guy. A big firm partner, he invited me to lunch to compare notes on our businesses. As we walked to lunch (10 minutes) he checked his Blackberry—twice. As we were being seated, he checked it again. Finally, he put it in a pocket and there it stayed while he talked about his work and his practice. He responded to my questions and we dug a bit deeper. He engaged.

Eventually, the talk turned to my work. It didn’t take long for the Blackberry to reappear. Not once, not twice. I lost count of how often he looked down at it. The message it sent to me was that talking about him was important enough to leave the Blackberry stowed. Listening to me? Not so much. The irony is that his practice requires a high level of client intimacy to be fully effective as an advisor.

Right now, I’m not inclined to refer anyone to Blackberry Guy. I know others in his specialty—just as smart and capable—who exhibit far more interest in those around them. What could Blackberry Guy do differently to earn my respect?

Focus completely on who you’re with. We underestimate the power of our full, undivided attention, especially in a world with so many distractions.

Explain extenuating circumstances—they do happen. If you are waiting for deal or life-altering news, say so. Ask for permission to check your incoming. Most everyone says yes and your candor may actually build a stronger relationship.

Put your Blackberry where it can’t distract you. Shut it off before putting it in your pocket. Vibrate mode will grab your attention every time (Ladies, turn the sound off and throw it in your purse. Better still, shut it off).

Should I give him a 2nd chance? Maybe. But will a potential client? I doubt it…..


  • Sandro da Silva

    Is Blackberry-ing the new smoking?

  • Louis Rothschild

    maybe 30 seconds to see if he would say – 'yes, spot on, thanks for the intervention.' that does make this the new smoking – destructive behavior.

  • Stevenbspeaks


    You are right on target here… I may even be a bit addicted myself. I wouldn't want something to happen without me knowing about it… even if it doesn't involve me. I MUST know… since knowledge is power then knowing is powerful.. and I need power. Hmmm… a bit narcissistic… but I can quit any time I want. 😉

  • Jim Reece

    If you're 17 with broken heart by an oaf then perhaps a second chance; two who are learning. But now that you are six or seven years older 🙂 there are more than a few things that should be past learning and into habit – human decency being one. Hell, you can even fake it, tho not for long, if you have the intelligence to just think about it.
    Absent that (and apparently so) and his presence is not mission critical then go to your bench, people you can trust. Even if he wised up and faked it during your reunion lacking certain moral fiber (or at least manners) then for certain some other oafish behavior will emerge when you aren't looking.
    So don't waste your next lunch on him – take me!

  • Chris

    Michelle, you are spot on. I had two similar experiences. One was a meeting in which I asked several participants to leave because their I-Things were more important than the opportunity I was presenting. Each of the participants requested to be in the meeting and the successful participant would be well rewarded financially and professionally.

    The second, I was conducting an interview with a lady. During the interview she interrupted, checked her I-Thing and proceede to sit there for several minutes composing a message. I asked if it were an emergency to which she need to attend. She replied, no it is my BFF saying good morning and I needed to respond.

    At that point, I ended the interview. She had the nerve to ask if she would get the job. I'll let you infer my response.

  • Ferris Family

    Did Chris call you Michelle? As a Rochelle I find this name confusion horrifying.

    Chris – never make this mistake again!

    BTW – my HUSBAND loves his iPhone more than me sometimes.

  • warren frost

    I was blackberry guy. I was a VP and I had deadlines, updates, agreements, briefings and reports to review at any time.

    I am now consulting and I did not replace my Blackberry and I can report that life is good and one can kick the habit.

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Great comments all. How our business has changed with instant access! Perhaps the logical next question is: when do we call out Blackberry Guy on his/her behavior vs simply ignoring it?

  • Ed Rosenbaum, The Customer Service Rainmaker

    Have you been speaking with my wife? She is on my case about my use of the BlackBerry, especially when I am driving (stopped at a light). It is a terribly bad habit that I will break and quickly.
    To my defense (and I need it), I do not look at the BlackBerry when I am in a meeting (or sleeping).

  • Tom Morris

    Oh how I was starting to become that guy. Sad, but true… even going so far as to check my messages while laying on the South Beach Miami sand. Now that I am reformed I am hyper-aware when others do it. One of my colleagues is a pro at it. Any more I just stop talking when his eye contact fades from me to his gizmo. I amy have to stop being subtle and just tell him. Give the guy a second chance, but definitely not a third.

  • Darci LaRocque

    My company has a portion of our training on BlackBerry etiquette, not to mention safety. We offer time and money savings but a big one for me is not letting it overrun your life!~ Great article and could I tell you some stories…. – BlackBerry training

  • Anonymous

    Blackberry users are now texting to contact people and places rather than calling. Checkout G0800-its new and working nationwide. A quick Google provides all the details! Good stuff!

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Interesting application–thanks for sharing!

  • Mark

    Dead on, Rochelle! Not a new concept, but interruptions are on the way to being the rule instead of the exception. I still don't get the twitterverse concept, but I'm probably too old to be THAT cool! The key message is that the person in front of you is ALWAYS the priority, as opposed to your BB, iPhone, TVs, etc…. This is just as important for dating as for business meetings.

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Good points, Mark–thanks for adding to the conversation. And hey, you're never too old to join the twitterverse 🙂

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