Have you noticed more and more people are promoting getting off our smart phones and having more face to face time? Sherry Turkle makes some valuable points in her NY Times’ article “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.” that I encourage my uber-connected clients to consider.
One of the most disturbing events described by Turkle is an experiment where young people were asked to sit alone with their thoughts for a period of less than 15 minutes. She reports that “many students opted to give themselves mild electric shocks rather than to sit alone with their thoughts.” Similarly, she describes young campers saying that being separated from their devices (and not the nature around them) was the most remarkable part of their hike through the woods.
As a professional mentor, I see the effects of being too connected to one’s smart phone and the resulting challenges budding professionals face in connecting with others and articulating their own point of view. But, thankfully, the solution is an easy fix.
Put the device down!
Seriously. Putting the phone down and engaging others around you is the first step toward improving your interpersonal communications skills.
When disconnected and interacting face-to-face, we benefit from hearing tone and reading facial expressions and body language, nonverbal cues that enhance clarity, prevent miscommunication and facilitate human connection. Ironically, human connection is exactly what we seek on platforms like Facebook and Snap Chat.
If you’re a self-proclaimed smart phone addict, you may find it difficult to turn it off. Studies show the pings and dings of text and social media notifications give us a little rush of brain chemicals that make us feel good. So if you think that might apply to you, find ways that work for you to spend less time connected to your phone. Make it a game or set specific times that you check in. If you must have your phone with you, put it face down, out of sight or in airplane mode when you’re with others–especially in professional meetings. It shows respect and says, “I’m here because I want to be with you.”
A great way to engage others is to ask questions about them and to truly listen to answers (versus formulating your next question or response). You can also come prepared to discuss a movie, book or TV show (stay away from politics and religion).
Another tip you can incorporate into your day is learning a new word and challenge yourself to use it in a conversation. A robust vocabulary is infinitely better than using emojis!
Being a strong communicator is important for casual conversations and critical for conversations that affect your future such as interviews and negotiations. The more that you develop your interpersonal communication skills, the more confident you will be expressing your point of view and collaborating with others, which can lead to success in many arenas.
Change your conversation, change your life.™