The constant call of your phone makes it impossible to fully engage with others or yourself.
Being present in the moment means you experience things in real time without being sidetracked by interfering thoughts, worries or distractions. If you're with someone, it means you're connecting and listening. If you're alone, it means you're more engaged with your activity, relaxed or in flow.
Recent research suggests that our biological ability to connect with and have empathy for others can be affected by cell phone use. When interacting with someone, the cell phone becomes like a third wheel vying for attention. Even when you're alone, your cell phone is like a 5-year-old, or worse, a group of them, constantly interrupting.
Want to improve your presence and connection? Don't do the following with your device:
- Use it when you're having face time. I know you can multitask, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. You cannot truly engage with someone or with a group of people while responding to your virtual world. This includes meetings; so annoying to wait for someone to weigh in while they're finishing their text. If you're speaking loudly on your phone while in a group, you're as involved with what the groups thinks as you are with the person with whom you’re speaking.You're not fully present for either.
- Engage in secretive texting/emailing in another's presence. You're in the car or watching television with someone, so it's not, strictly speaking, face time. When someone I'm with is preoccupied with their phone, it's not an invasion of privacy to ask what's going on. If you don't want to talk about it because it's private, try waiting for privacy to have that interaction.
- Set it on the table in a restaurant when you're with someone. If you're on call or the only person responsible for a child (who undoubtedly is going to need you at that very moment), you can ask forgiveness for setting out your phone. Otherwise, it's totally rude and an utter distraction from your ability to be present. You will be perceived as less empathetic.
- Fail to safeguard it with a password. Inviting people to look at your unprotected phone in this way is engaging them indirectly in your business, ignoring the privacy of others (oh, that's just my ex) and provoking a conflict about boundaries (instead of a conversation). With a password you can be present in the moment to address why they thought it was okay to pick up your phone as if it were a magazine available for perusal.
- Pretend to be talking or reading on it when you're not. Instead of being shady and using your phone to avoid a conversation with someone you see approaching, try responding honestly in the moment. The meeting might be a bit awkward, but it might be the moment that changes the rest of your life, if you're present for it.
- Fiddle with it because you're uncomfortable. Be it boredom, anxiety or something else, being present requires that you experience what you're feeling. Try not doing anything about the discomfort. See what it's like. I promise, it won't kill you.
- Use it to photograph something without enjoying it first. We're so busy trying to show everyone what we're doing and how great it is that we forget to smell the roses. Taking time to enjoy a spectacular sunset without the distraction of having to record it helps you savor and be present in the moment.
- Leave the sound on when you're in a conversation. How irritating is it to hear dings and chirps while you're trying to have a conversation? It's very irritating and it causes a disconnect each time (especially if you're really in demand). Talking surrounded by silence is much more meaningful and no one cares to know how popular you are.
- Use it in private sessions like therapy and coaching. This is a pet peeve. But really, you can only make the best use of your personal growth time if you're fully present and engaged. Are we likely to get far in your personal journey when interrupted by a call from your PA about a project you're heading?
- Use it while exercising or relaxing. Imagine the slightly lopsided walker in an agitated conversation on their cell phone...not exactly a picture of relaxation and well-being. I recently slightly guiltily ignored a text while practicing yoga at home. The world did not come to an end awaiting my response. For best results, turn both sound and vibration off for these activities.
Following a few cell phone rules will help you develop your presence in the moment. You'll have quality alone time and more engagement, empathy and confidence with others.
Judith Tutin, Phd, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at drjudithtutin.com where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and happiness to your life.