Mixed Reviews on Checking E-mail During Meetings

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<p><strong>Menlo Park, Calif. &mdash; April 19</strong><br />Is it OK to check e-mail during meetings?&nbsp; A new survey shows the verdict is still out, although many executives are doing it. &nbsp;</p><p>Eighty-six percent of senior executives polled said it is common for professionals they work with to read and respond to e-mail messages during meetings. &nbsp;</p><p>Close to one-third of this group (31 percent), however, disapproves of the practice. &nbsp;</p><p>Thirty-seven percent of respondents feel it&rsquo;s OK to respond to e-mail as long as the message is urgent, and 23 percent of those polled said professionals should excuse themselves from the meeting before responding to e-mail.</p><p>The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, a provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. &nbsp;</p><p>The national poll includes responses from 150 senior executives &mdash; including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments &mdash; with the nation&rsquo;s 1,000 largest companies.</p><p>Senior executives were asked, &ldquo;In your experience, how common is it for professionals you work with to read and respond to e-mail messages on their mobile devices (i.e., BlackBerry, Treo) during business meetings?&rdquo;&nbsp; &lt;p&gt;Their responses: </p><ul><li>Very common: <strong>53 percent</strong><br /></li><li>Somewhat common: <strong>33 percent</strong><br /></li><li>Somewhat uncommon: <strong>9 percent</strong><br /></li><li>Very uncommon: <strong>5 percent</strong><br /></li></ul><p>Respondents were then asked, &ldquo;Which of the following most closely describes your reaction when professionals read and respond to e-mail during business meetings?&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Their responses:</p><p>It&rsquo;s OK to read and respond to messages during the meeting, but only if the message is urgent: <strong>37 percent </strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s never OK &mdash; e-mail devices should be turned off or not brought to the meeting at all: <strong>31 percent</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s OK to check messages as long as attendees excuse themselves and step outside the meeting to respond: <strong>23 percent</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s perfectly acceptable to read and respond to messages during the meeting, especially at a time when what is being said doesn&rsquo;t pertain to them: <strong>9 percent<br /></strong></p><p>&ldquo;The least-disruptive option is to avoid using handheld e-mail devices during meetings, but that may not always be possible for executives who must be accessible,&rdquo; said Paul McDonald, Robert Half Management Resources executive director. &ldquo;Professionals who may have to check e-mail during gatherings should alert their hosts and be as unobtrusive as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>Robert Half Management Resources offers these additional tips for using mobile devices during meetings:</p><ul><li><strong>Be discreet. </strong>If you need to bring your mobile device to a meeting, set it on vibrate to avoid disturbing other attendees or the meeting leader.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Consider your audience.</strong> Your co-workers might be more forgiving of your need to respond to e-mail than a client, for example, so adjust your e-mail activity accordingly.<br /></li></ul><ul><li><strong>Respond only if it&rsquo;s truly urgent. </strong>It&rsquo;s tempting to check every message that comes in, but avoid doing so unless there&rsquo;s a compelling reason.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Step out of the room. </strong>If you receive an urgent message during a meeting, step quietly out of the room to reply.<br /></li></ul><ul><li><strong>Know when to let go.</strong> Spending a considerable amount of time checking e-mail will make those you are with feel unimportant. It&rsquo;s better to bow out of a meeting altogether than be distracted during most of it.</li></ul>

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