Cell phones and technology have become a huge part of our lives. They’ve gone being a part of daily life, to hourly life, to nowadays, moment to moment life. They do just about everything for us. Need proof? Think about a time you’ve been without your phone for an hour or two. Many of us feel like we’ve lost an appendage!
It’s no surprise then that many of us keep our cell phones close by at all times. It’s so easy to have them out and available; why not? Well, what if I told you this.
Having a cell phone out and visible during a conversation with another person has been shown to negatively impact the quality of the connection and interaction between the two people. Yes, you read that right. Having your phone out during a conversation impacts your ability to connect and converse with your friend, partner, child, or coworker.
Think about it. You’re out grabbing coffee with a friend, and you set your cell phone down next to your latte. You’re catching up and chatting, and you get a text from your sibling. You don’t respond, but for a second, your eyes glance away and your brain takes time to register who is texting and what they might want. You quickly come back to your friend, but the reality is, your attention and empathy were interrupted.
Or perhaps you are grabbing ice cream with your kids, and you’ve got your phone on the side of the table. As they’re talking about their recent math test or classmate drama, you get an alert on your phone. Their eyes and attention drift to phone, breaking contact with you and their story, before eventually coming back. The interruption was brief, but long enough for them to miss your head nodding, genuine laughter, and follow-up question.
Luckily, there is a pretty simple trick to fix for this. Put your phone away. Not to the side, not on silent, but away. Out of sight, out of reach…away, away, away. When my husband and I are out to dinner, I’ve trained myself to put my phone in my purse, out of sight. When I’m grabbing a drink with a friend, my phone stays in my purse, the whole time. This way, the person, the conversation, and more importantly, our connection, have my full attention.
Of course, there are some exceptions, and if it’s an absolute necessity or emergency, please use your judgement. In these cases, if you have to have your phone out, do so thoughtfully, communicating your intent, as well as the possible impact, to the person you’re connecting with.
Having our phones out 24/7 may be easy, but it’s not always healthy or helpful especially when it comes to relationships. So let’s agree to put our phones away in conversations, giving our relationships and conversations the attention they deserve.
Want another helpful tip for your relationships? Check out this post.