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Why Meeting Texts are Killing Your Culture

Toxic Side Conversations

It used to be that “offline” conversations are what happened after a meeting dispersed and you followed your boss or colleague to her office to continue the discussion and gain additional insights.

Now, those offline asides are taking place online. And they are happening during the meeting. In offices everywhere, text messages related to the topics under discussion are popping up on the screens of many of the meeting or conference call participants. Raw conversations like:

>why wasn’t the reorg project included on your list?

>>It’s been nixed.


>>No tolerance by mgt to deal with the loud complaints and non-stop whining of a certain exec.

>news to me…i’m in shock

>>Hey, I’m the just messenger.
>>But you’re not the only one who feels that way.



Concurrent electronic communications circumvent the need to raise a point or initiate a conversation with the group. When covert messages are permitted to fly between participants, the active dialog occurs only as subtext and group silence seemingly indicates agreement.

If the purpose of holding a meeting is to share information, gain consensus, and make decisions, then texting during meetings gives everyone cover to avoid all three.

public service announcement - don't text and meet

Texts Reveal Your Culture

Leaders should realize that electronic asides provide a subtext for the meeting. If they are happening, then they are the only place that the truth is being spoken. In reality, the timid are choosing to raise valid questions and criticisms in a non-confrontational and non-productive way.

In this environment, meetings serve to make everyone feel like they are participating in an important and exclusive activity, when in fact no real dialogue occurs and everyone’s time is wasted. Worse, minor contentions, simmering hostilities, and valid differences of opinion are never raised.

Without a doubt, electronic side conversations are a poison to teamwork and they are indicative of a culture of fear.

How different would meetings be at your workplace if texting was banned?


Amanda Marko is president and chief connection officer of Connected Strategy Group, which helps leaders communicate their business strategy and engage stakeholders during times of change.

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

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