Should texting, emailing and browsing be banned in meetings? This article discusses the current climate.

Despite resistance, the etiquette debate seems to be tilting in the favor of smartphone use, many executives said. Managing directors do it. Summer associates do it. It spans gender and generation, private and public sectors.

A few years ago, only “the investment banker types” would use BlackBerrys in meetings, said Frank Kneller, the chief executive of a company in Elk Grove Village, Ill., that makes water-treatment systems. “Now it’s everybody.” He said that if he spotted 6 of 10 colleagues tapping away, he knew he had to speed up his presentation.

While I would always prefer to have my iPhone handy, I would volunteer to keep the meeting smartphone free.  And that is not because I want the undivided attention of my colleagues.  If we all deprive ourselves we create high-powered incentives to keep the meeting as short as possible.  That sentiment is echoed here:

Mr. Brotherton, the consultant, wrote in an e-mail message that it was customary now for professionals to lay BlackBerrys or iPhones on a conference table before a meeting — like gunfighters placing their Colt revolvers on the card tables in a saloon. “It’s a not-so-subtle way of signaling ‘I’m connected. I’m busy. I’m important. And if this meeting doesn’t hold my interest, I’ve got 10 other things I can do instead.’ ”

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