BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 15 APR 2011


Delivering a Masterclass on the Seven Keys To Strategic Networking in Newcastle we got to the one about Mastering Modern Manners. Seventy people in the room and the first example of inappropriate behaviour from the body of the Kirk was improper use of the mobile phone. It comes up early doors every time.

I am the first to admit that my grey hairs are starting to outnumber the brown; that I am keener on the telly than new technology; that maybe I have a bee in my bonnet over this. But on the way home in the late afternoon- First Class Super Saver, just over twenty quid- I had cause to eventually use my best Paddington stare so that I, and my fellow travellers, could get some peace.

Immediately after the announcement that we should respect others by using the phone in the space between carriages Mr Pointy-toe Shiny-suit started giving and receiving so much to three of us in his immediate vicinity, with another half-dozen or so thrown in for good measure. The girlfriend; the mate; the work colleague in sales; the work colleague who knows the “stupid b***h” (Fiona, by the way) who wouldn’t know how to manage a project if her life depended on it and has gone running to HR.

It was for Fiona the Paddington stare kicked in: a slow turn of the head Exorcist-style, but without the green vomit and not a full 360, followed by a three second unflinching look. Not enough to be seen as aggressive but more than enough to let him know that I know he’s about as welcome as Andrew Lansley at Cleopatra’s on a Thursday night in 1983 (Nurses night, apparently).

Not a word was said between us, and the Telephone Man chose to do his talking by the toilets. I’m not unreasonable about this, you understand: if the phone goes and you are in your seat and it’s a few minutes of something not too intimate and that’s going to be that then fine. But have some consideration; realise that you are not the centre of the universe.

I was at a client meeting a while ago with my MD: two of them, two of us. On their side, one Big Cheese and one middle manager, the latter a lovely young lady. Lovely as she was, and intelligent too, all I can remember from the meeting was her mobile, sitting on the table, vibrating and occasionally gliding across the smooth veneer as emails pinged their way into her life.

Every time I have seen her since, the first thing that comes into my head is how rude she was when we first met. It will take a while before that episode is deleted. WH Auden once said that, “An injury is sooner forgotten than an insult.” How true. The mobile and its plethora of dysfunctional functions is just about the best way available to annoy others you don’t know, or others you do. Worse still, others you want to get to know. On the train, in a coffee house, in a meeting, at a conference, during a seminar, while imbibing and networking, ditch the mobile and choose to be in the room.


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about the author

Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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