March 17, 2017

Disconnect to Be More Connected

Chances are, there’s a habit you and I practice daily that is causing conflict in our relationships. It’s not forgetting to walk the dog or not putting the cap back on the toothpaste. The problem is with looking at our phones.

Experts are now calling frequent phone checking in social settings “phone snubbing” which is fairly self-explanatory. In the gaps between conversation when we reach for our phones, we are inadvertently communicating disinterest to the person we are with. And each time it happens, the tension builds.

James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University published a study called “Computers in Human Behavior” with a colleague that focused on this phenomenon. He surveyed 450 adults on their phone behaviors and 46.3 percent of respondents confirmed that their significant others phone snubbed them, and 22.6 percent said it caused relationship issues.   

If you answer yes to any of these scenarios, you might be a phone snubber!

  • When there’s a lull in the conversation, you act on your first instinct which is to pull out your phone.
  • Your phone is out at mealtimes so you can check it constantly.
  • When you turn out the light and get into bed, you’re still on your phone.  
  • When you’re out with friends, you post pictures from that evening immediately instead of waiting until you get home.
  • During any downtime at the stoplight, in the elevator, or walking to the front door, you’re looking at your phone.

Relationships are hard enough without the added miscommunication that phones cause, wouldn’t you agree? Surely, we’ve all done this to people, so no reason to point the finger of blame. But if we want to improve the quality of our relationships, there is a simple secret that will build richer more rewarding relationships. What’s that secret you ask – Active Listening!

Active Listening is practicing mindful hearing and comprehension of what someone else is saying. It means giving verbal cues of affirmation, maintaining eye contact and restating back to the person what they have said, to ensure you understand them correctly.

People with high levels of emotional intelligence are really good at this. Not only do they make others feel heard, but also appreciated. The trick to good communication is not just hearing what someone is saying, but trying to understand what’s behind it. We often miss important cues about what the other person is feeling when we don’t practice active listening.

Here are few tips to practice Active Listening and improve your relationships!

  • Make mealtimes mandatory screen-free zones (TV included) so you can catch up on life with your significant other.
  • Make an effort to connect the old-fashioned way by leaving sticky notes around the house for your favorite person to find!
  • When there’s conflict, always attempt to resolve in person and not over a text message or email.
  • When there’s downtime or a lull in the conversation, instead of reaching for your phone, ask a follow-up question.
  • Power down your phone at an appointed time each day. This will communicate to your significant other that they have your full attention.

Taking a screen-free break is a positive habit we can build into our schedules to prevent our most important relationships from suffering. Facebook will always be there, but your spouse or significant other may not!

Focusing on the expressions of a person’s face will tell you so much more than scrolling through a social media feed. Going screenless is not depriving ourselves of a good thing, it’s pausing to appreciate the people we overlook too often. Go screenless more, I dare you! The results will change and improve your relationships drastically.


Here’s to your best relationships ever!

Coach Greg