Today’s career success advice comes courtesy of Charlie Brown – the Denver city councilman, not the Peanuts character. In an op-ed piece he wrote for the Denver Post entitled “Put Down Your BlackBerry and Listen to the Citizens,” he urges his fellow city council members to not use their cell phones during council meetings.
At the end of every Denver city council meeting, individual citizens are given three minutes at the podium to speak to the council about any subject they choose. Councilman Brown said…
“At the end of one recent council meeting, I observed several colleagues with hands below their desktops, eyes focused down, trying hard to hide their frantic texting during much of the public hearing. The council president called each speaker by name to the podium located a few steps from council members. But even the close proximity didn’t matter. Texting continued as some members seemed oblivious to the speakers.”
A little further into his piece, Councilman Brown quoted Denver Mayor Michael Hancock…
“As a former Denver city councilman, I think it is a good idea to limit the use of cell phones during public hearing. It’s about being courteous to your fellow council members and to those who have come to speak before the council.”
I agree with Councilman Brown and Mayor Hancock. Tweet 108 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Live people take precedence over phone calls. Continue in person face to face conversations, rather than answering your cell phone.”
When I wrote this tweet, I was writing about how to become an effective communicator – not about elected officials. Quite frankly, I was shocked to read Councilman Brown’s op-ed piece. In my opinion, the public hearing is the most important part of a city council meeting. Council members need to demonstrate basic courtesy to their constituents by listening to what they have to say.
Setting aside the disrespect that Denver city council members show their constituents, there is some great life and career advice in Councilman Brown’s op-ed piece.
I am really sorry that Women’s Edge Magazine is no longer with us. I used to find a lot of great career advice and common sense wisdom in its pages. The January 2008 issue of Women’s Edge made two great quotes that relate to the career advice in Success Tweet 108.
- “Communicate respect in every encounter with every person, regardless of position or background.” Robyn Hall, Raleigh Police Department
- “Listen and speak at the same time, meaning that you actively engage people with your full attention.” Judy Fourie, J. Fourie & Company
Focusing on live people – rather than your electronic gadgets – is the best way to demonstrate your respect for others. Respect is the key to building strong relationships with the people in your life – not just those who can do something for you, but everyone you meet. Many people – like some members of our Denver City Council — show a lot of respect for people above them in the hierarchy, and little respect for those below them. This is too bad. Often people below you can do as much or more for you than those above you. But that’s not the point. The point is that they’re people too, and as such, are entitled to your respect.
The Optimist Creed has some great things to say about respect. It encourages us to, “Promise yourself to make all your friends feel as if there is something in them…and to give every living creature you meet a smile.” If you want a copy of The Optimist Creed to hang in your office, go to http://BudBilanich.com/optimist.
Judy Fourie’s quote is interesting for what it has to say about human interaction. I like the idea of “listening and speaking at the same time.” In other words, as you engage someone, listen very carefully to what he or she has to say so you can respond appropriately. What you say should be directly related to what the other person has just said. This demonstrates that you are listening. It also demonstrates that you value what he or she says – a great way to show someone that you respect him or her.
Being fully engaged means that, unlike some members of the Denver City Council, you shut out the distractions of the world and focus your attention on the person who is speaking to you. People tell me that they can never get me on my cell phone. This is true. My cell phone is not a good way to contact me because it is usually off. My cell phone is usually off because I am often in conversations with my career success coach clients. I don’t want the distraction of a ringing or vibrating cell phone when I’m trying to concentrate on another person and what he or she is saying.
The two quotes from Women’s Edge Magazine above are complementary. One of the best ways to show others that you respect others is to engage them. One of the best ways to engage people is to listen to what they say and respond appropriately. If you keep these two pieces of common sense advice in mind as you meet people, you’ll be on your way to becoming an interpersonally competent person and the life and career success you deserve to be.
The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Demonstrate your respect for other people by paying attention to them and what they have to say. Don’t act like some of the members of the Denver City Council. Follow the career advice in Tweet 108 in Success Tweets. “Live people take precedence over phone calls. Continue in-person, face-to-face conversations, rather than answering your cell phone.” Focusing on live people – rather than your electronic gadgets – is the best way to demonstrate your respect for others. Respect is the key to building strong relationships with the people in your life – not just those who can do something for you, but everyone you meet. Strong relationships are an important key to your life and career success.
That’s the career advice I took from reading Charlie Brown’s op-ed piece on cell phone use during Denver City Council meetings. What do you think? Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you. And, I promise to turn off my cell phone if we every have a face to face conversation.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. The first gives you 140 bits of career advice, all in 140 characters or less. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.
PPS: I opened a membership site on September 1. It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations. To celebrate the grand opening, I’m giving away a new career advice book I’ve written called I Want YOU…To Succeed in Your Corporate Climb. You can find out about the membership site and get the career advice in I Want YOU… for free by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.