How to handle the rude person with a phone…


Now, I am an avid user of technology.

I tend not to use paper and keep things in the cloud. I can access information anywhere on any device.

It works for me.

However, technology has also caused some very bad habits to develop in people.

Some of them are bad personal habits; let’s face it, dinners and mobile phones don’t mix, right?

One of the relevant business issues is the mobile in the meeting.

I read this article on this subject and thought I’d share it with you.

It provides a familiar situation we have also faced and some ideas on how to address it.


If your audience is distracted by their phones don’t criticise them.

by Rebekah Campbell

“Some time ago I pitched Hey You to a major organisation. The chief executive and chief financial officer sat on the other side of an antique table with four other members of the executive team. My business partner and I perched together, PowerPoint deck ready to go. We’d spent weeks preparing this presentation; my palms were slick with anticipation and fear. This could be the opportunity of a lifetime.

One minute in, my pitch struck a hurdle. The CEO pulled out his mobile phone and began to twiddle. Was he, perhaps, looking up our app? As the minutes ticked by, it became clear he wasn’t checking out our app; he was checking his emails. He sniffed and smiled at the content of one of his messages.

A few minutes later the CFO received a text message, whereupon he too focused on his phone. So I delivered my finely rehearsed lines to the tops of two balding heads. Other members of the team leaned forward, perhaps in sympathy, but it didn’t compensate for the mental absence of two key decision makers.

Disrespected and powerless, I couldn’t focus. I wanted to impress the group, but their leaders weren’t giving me a chance. I began to fumble my words as my brain scrambled for a way to win back my audience. Should I complain? I wondered.

Psychologist and communications expert Clare Mann says my reaction is typical. She says the focus and actions of a listener affects the quality of the speaker’s delivery. “When someone notices that they aren’t being listened to, their attention will move to their inner voice. They’ll question what the listener is thinking and lose eloquence.”

I didn’t feel it was appropriate to stop my presentation and demand the CEO pay attention. Mann’s advice to is to work to win back rapport at any cost. “There is no point continuing to speak as if you hadn’t noticed they were on their phones.”

She says that continuing under such circumstances is unlikely to win the business anyway. The distracted executives will walk away underwhelmed by the presentation and without appreciating the key points. Worse, Mann believes that saying nothing creates anxiety and erodes confidence. “You don’t want to feel like a girl who just gave a pitch and no one listened. It’s important to constantly check in with yourself. What are you feeling and what are the consequences of not speaking out?”

If by chance they did say yes, Mann says, I’d have established a bad precedent. By checking emails or looking at their phone in a meeting, the person is making a statement that their time is more important than yours. “If they don’t treat you as an equal then you have to decide if you want to work with the person.”

I’ve since presented at many disengaged meetings. It’s frustrating when I’ve got something important to share and people are typing on phones or laptops. It’s especially difficult when there’s a power imbalance such as a business pitch. Mann concedes that calling out bad behaviour is difficult. Her advice for rescuing a presentation that has lost its audience is:

1. Stop the meeting and ask a question

Mann suggests using the person’s name. “People always hear their name and if you ask something that requires a response then you can bring the person back into the conversation.” If a group has lost interest, then Mann suggests standing up and inviting the group to participate. “Standing, moving forward or around a table surprises people and makes it difficult for them to ignore you.”

2. Make a direct request

If they still aren’t paying attention, then Mann says be direct and explain why it’s important to listen. For example; “David, I have an opportunity that will transform your business. If you give me 10 minutes of your undivided attention, I know you will find what I have to say valuable.” She recommends a firm tone of voice; don’t try to be appealing.

3. Allow the person to save face

Your objective should be to bring the person back into rapport so they can engage in the conversation. Be careful not to criticise or embarrass: they won’t listen if they feel uncomfortable.

Fortunately, I was able to win back the CEO and CFO at my boardroom presentation. I pulled out my phone and asked everyone to use our app to order coffees. It felt clunky and a bit aggressive but I was able to re-establish a connection with my listeners. I maintained eye-contact with the CEO for the rest of the meeting and asked regular questions to keep everyone engaged.

In hindsight, I’m glad that I didn’t power forward knowing that some people weren’t listening. The sense that my message wasn’t being heard was both unpleasant and offensive. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I had walked away knowing I hadn’t made an impact.

Rebekah Campbell is a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Hey You! Australia’s largest cafe app.”


Who can help you be the best you can be?


I’ve been doing some facilitation work recently.

I love facilitating!!!

It doesn’t matter whether it’s running strategy workshops, developing culture in leadership sessions, or hard-nosed operational reviews. I love them all and have been doing them all of late.


I love the energy, the theatrics, the challenging, and the satisfaction I get from seeing teams, and people have “aha moments“. You know the ones, where things come together and there is a major movement forward and there is some group learning and togetherness.

I was working with one great team in a beautiful town south of Sydney last week. It was 4pm on a Friday afternoon. It had been a long, but VERY, productive day. Really top notch day in fact.

But 4pm on a Friday? That’s beer o’clock time, right?

Well two awesome things happened.

Firstly, I noticed the energy in the room. It was just brilliant. These people were engaged, they were talking, they were positive. They were challenged with a big transformation and they were standing up as transformational leaders. Now, apart from being my favourite catch cry (Transformation, Innovation, and Growth is what my acronym TIG stands for, after all!!), it was real! And these wonderful people were expecting less of other people and accepting the baton of responsibility to expect more of themselves as leaders of a transformation.

My drive back to Sydney was traffic-infested. But I didn’t notice because of the energy these people created. It’s a wonderful experience driven by a massive desire to see people realise their potential. No drugs involved an aside, I wish some sporting people would lesson their reliance on artificial stimulants….

Secondly, there was something that happened at 4pm as well. There was great energy but there was also a great question. You see I’ve always believed that the best way to learn is to teach. It’s actually why I love facilitating because I learn so much every time I lead a session. But someone asked about mentoring. Who should they choose? What will they learn? etc etc

Mentoring is an awesome thing to do. Because you learn so much.

But here’s the drum. Don’t mentor and lecture. Mentor and ASK QUESTIONS!

A coach gives you direction, technique, even solutions. and they are important in many ways. If you have a deficiency in an area, need some skills enhancement, want some more tools and techniques.

But a mentor facilitates you to find a self-discovered solution.

But as importantly, being a mentor is wonderful. Because as a mentor you learn. You learn to ask the insightful question. You learn to listen. You learn perspectives. It’s very unselfish learning.

If you want a mentor, perhaps have a few. Get some varied and trusted people together to ask you lots of questions and guide you to find solutions.

And as a mentor, learn to ask the insightful question. Learn the art of story telling. And learn the art of listening.

Because sometimes helping others is a step to realising your potential…