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Study Reveals Those Who Get Offended by Cell Phone Use

Update Date: Oct 25, 2013 03:56 PM EDT
Text, Phone
The students spent the most time texting on their phones with an average of 94.6 minutes per day. (Photo : Flickr/ proudcanadianeh)

You're at a business meeting and you feel your cell phone vibrate, beckoning you to pick it up. Should you take it out of your pocket and check it or should you wait till the meeting is over?

Researchers say it depends on the gender and age of the person giving the presentation.

The latest study, which involved 550 working professionals, found that women are twice as likely as men to be offended by cell phone use. The study also found that older professionals are three times more likely than young professionals to find cell phone use inappropriate during meetings and business lunches.

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However, most people said that checking texts or emails is unacceptable behavior during business meetings, with 76 percent of people surveyed saying that it is impolite.  Unsurprising, 87 percent of people said answering a call was rarely or never acceptable in business meeting.

However, people seemed to be a little more relaxed when it came to business lunches. The study revealed that 66 percent of people said that writing or sending a text message is inappropriate during a business lunch.

Researchers found that men were nearly twice as likely as women to consider cell phone use at a business lunch acceptable. The findings revealed that more than 59 percent of men said it was okay to check text messages at a power lunch, compared to 34 percent of women who thought the same.

Men also felt it was more acceptable to answer a call at a power lunch with 50 percent of men saying that it was acceptable compared to 26 percent of women.

Surprising, people in the West Coast were a bit more uptight about cell phone use compared to those in the East Coast. Higher income professionals also had less tolerance for cell phones use in business meeting.

The study also found a dramatic age gap, with younger professionals being three times as likely as older professionals to think writing a text message over a business lunch is appropriate. The findings revealed that 66 percent of people under 30 said that texting or emailing was acceptable compared to just 20 percent of people between the ages of 51 and 65.

"Not surprisingly, millennials and younger professionals were more likely to be accepting of smart phone use, but they might be doing themselves a disservice," researcher Peter W. Cardon of the USC Marshall School of Business and colleagues at Howard University said in a news release. "In many situations, they rely on those older than them for their career advancement."

Just having your phone on the table is enough to offend some people, according to the study. Researchers found that 20 percent of people said having a phone out at a business lunch is inappropriate and rude.

"Hiring managers often cite courtesy as among the most important soft skills they notice. By focusing on civility, young people entering the workforce may be able to set themselves apart," Cardon concluded.

The findings are published in the journal Business Communication Quarterly.

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