You are getting ready to close the deal with a high profile client when your phone vibrates. You have been expecting an email from another client all day, and this may be the golden message that you have been anticipating. Should you take two seconds away from your in-person meeting to check your email? No, you should not.
Face-to-face overrides online
There is never a time where the person sending you an email is more important than the individual who takes time out of their busy schedule to converse with you in person. Responding, or even reading, your email while in a meeting with someone else – especially a VIP - is the equivalent of sporadically starting a conversation with a random bystander without concluding the discussion at hand. How rude is that?
Staying connected is imperative
You cannot properly interact with the person in front of you while responding to an email or text message. Giving full attention to the associate standing before you is essential to good business and success. Of course, emergencies are exceptions to the rule, and if you MUST take another call, be open and clear and let your present party know at the start that you MAY have to accept a quick call so there are no surprises; and, that all parties are in agreement beforehand. Otherwise, let the call wait.