We've all been there. The plumber needs to get into the house and you have to call a family member to open the door. Your kid got sick at school and you have a presentation to give in 10 minutes. You need to reschedule that doctor's appointment or else they'll charge you for not showing up. The phone saves us from so many crises throughout the day, no wonder everyone has a phone attached to them at all times.
However, in the workplace, when does the phone become less of a useful tool, and more like a crutch? There are four ways to know if you've crossed the line into full blown phone-obsession.
1. Your conversations disrupt others. There are many ways that you may be disrupting the people around you. If you're loud and are practically yelling into the phone because the person on the other end can't hear you or isn't listening or has bad reception, be aware that everyone else can hear you. They probably would rather not. Laughing, exclaiming, or any other loud vocal styling you may use in conversations are fully audible to the people in your workplace. They may not have a way to drown out the noise, and now you've become number one on their annoying co-worker list.
2. Your conversations actually keep you from getting your work done. We've all had conversations with those people that can't seem to end a conversation. You got your answer from them ten minutes ago and they're still explaining it to you. What they don't seem to understand is, the workday is only so long. If you're on the phone talking about how to do your job instead of actually doing it, you're not being productive at all. And not being productive, in this recession, can be a red flag to employers who are looking to trim the fat.
3. You're having inappropriate conversations. "Inappropriate" can mean many different things. For our purposes, inappropriate means personal details about you or others that have no place at work. We don't all need to know about your cousin's botched plastic surgery. We don't care. It has nothing to do with work and the subject matter is extremely personal. As I mentioned before, everyone makes or receives personal calls. It happens. But there is a difference between making sure your children are picked up from school, and telling someone the intimate details of your personal life.
4. You've received disciplinary action from management. Chances are, people have noticed that you're abusing the phone at work, and more than likely, they will complain about it. Generally, professionals want to work in an environment that is just that, professional. So don't be surprised when you get called into your supervisor's office for a little chat about the excessive phone calls or the subject matter of your phone calls. If you've been warned, try to keep your conversations to a minimum and make them mostly about work.
If you fall into one or more of these categories, just remember, the first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem. Put the phone down, do some work, and you'll be back at the top of your game in no time.