Do you sit down to a meal with your smartphone either in hand? Is it on the table? Do you eat, sleep and breathe with your smartphone near you? Are you always checking your phone when you attend meetings, conferences, or somewhere you think people can’t see you doing it?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, read this. Fast.
Constantly checking your phone is a real anxiety-inducer. If you speak to someone on their phone, do you want to talk to them? Do you think they listen? Do they look up and / or respond?
Not only is it rude to check your phone when someone communicates with you, but it may give the impression that you are a disorganised, unprofessional, and perhaps even an uncaring, person.
Now apply this to your family. Do you constantly tell your child to get off their phone / tablet / computer? Do family dinners and eating out involve you staring at your phone while your kid stares at another device screen? Observe how many people eat while ignoring each other. We often forget about in-person interaction while we use applications.
I don’t expect you to throw out every piece of tech you own. Apps can be useful communication, time management, and scheduling tools. However, they shouldn’t be an excuse for rudeness.
We’re spoilt for choice with apps. Each aims to make our lives simpler, and more time efficient. While these goals are noble, we still fall short of the mark.
Why? What happens when we can’t blame the app? Perhaps it’s time to take a long hard look at how we create meaning in our communication…
It all comes down to respect. No app is going to replace social and communication skills. Next time you fish your phone out of your pocket or handbag while you are mid-conversation, ask yourself the following questions:
- What kind of example am I setting?
- What precedents am I establishing?
- Is ignoring this person or being distracted while I speak and listen the social norm and standard I want to enforce and be (rather infamously) known for?
To achieve better in-person relationships, start small. Set manageable goals. Here are some tips:
- Put away your phone when you need to complete a task. Turn off notifications and sound alerts. You’ll see your productivity and time management improve. Your relationships with colleagues, your boss, manager, and stakeholders or clients will improve when they realise that you really concentrate on what you are doing.
- Schedule a few hours of screen-free time every day. This is a great idea if you have trouble sleeping. Turn your screens off an hour before bedtime and spend that time relaxing with a book. If you need to plan, do it with a pen and piece of paper! You’ll stop constantly checking your apps and enjoy the moment.
- Have coffee with a friend and keep your phone out of sight. Take the time to enjoy their company. You may even get a compliment about how nice it is to speak to someone who actuallylistens!
- Leave your phone behind or keep it out of sight during meetings. You’ll absorb much more and will be concentrate on important issues.
- Turn off on-screen email notifications and sound alerts when you need to get your work done in a specified time frame. You’ll see a significant increase in productivity and might become known for meeting deadlines!
Initially, it is tempting to reach for the nearest device. You’ll want to distract yourself with things that affect your productivity. You’ll compromise your concentration (can you say procrastinator?).
Time and practise will eventually make you better at ignoring distractions. Developing better relationships and being known as an excellent communicator is a powerful motivator, though.
Do you know someone who needs to read this? Send them this link!