Stop ‘Phubbing’ in Business

A week or so ago I was watching breakfast television while eating my bowl of cereal when they were reporting on the Stop Phubbing campaign. I was instantly curious about this new word and even more so when I learnt that it means “The act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.”

I must say that I don’t particularly feel that I am a victim of phubbing in a social setting, more an observer of those around me. Where I do feel that phubbing affects me is in a business situation.

How does it affect me? In three ways:

1. When I am running training workshops and participants want to engage more with their mobile phones than with the subject matter and their fellow delegates.

2. When I am training people how to run effective meetings and the learners want to know how to handle attendees who use their phones, tablets and laptops during meetings.

3. When I am having more and more discussions with people I am coaching about how their business life intrudes into their private life outside office hours. They are finding themselves slaves to the technology rather than masters of and they find that they can never completely switch off. (This is probably the subject for a separate blog.)

Many people who are guilty of phubbing in business will say that they do it to be more efficient. What I see is that efficiency is diluted rather than strengthened. Take someone in a training session who is also answering emails, their participation and learning might only be 60% while the effectiveness of their email communication might also only be 60%. They will have missed out on their learning and may need to repeat it later and may also spend more time resolving questions or issues arising from their emails.

As leaders we need to set an example of how to be effective by focusing our attention on those around us. We need to engage with others both face-to-face and on-line and to give our full concentration by setting aside time for each activity. We can lead the way by demonstrating new business etiquette for the technological world and encouraging others to observe the same etiquette in our businesses.


If you want to know more about the campaign to stop social phubbing take a look at



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