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Be smart. Get off your smartphone

Tags: Be interesting | Presentations | Meetings | Impact | Leadership | Influencing

25th April

On a recent family holiday in Center Parcs, I saw something weird…

It was a family of four, sat round a square table. All were staring intently at their own smartphones. They weren’t looking at each other. Weren’t speaking to each other. Nothing.

My kids and I then went swimming for an hour or so. And, when we came out, the family were still there. In exactly the same position. Staring at their phones. Ignoring each other. Ignoring the hundreds of Center Parcs activities they could do…

Then it suddenly dawned on me: you see this sort of thing all the time.

Like, when people arrive at a meeting, and the first thing they do is put their phone next to them. Face up. This suggests to me they think “someone more important than you might contact me. If they do, I’ll interrupt you, to see what they want.”

Or when someone misses something important in a meeting/presentation, because they’re looking at their phone. And they then expect you to repeat it! (To me, this suggests “this person on the phone who I can’t see is more important than you, who I can.”)

I’ve even heard that, when some people wake up, they roll over to their phone first, not their partner (this suggests “anybody is more important to me than you.”)

Now, of course, smartphones are brilliant.

Sometimes.

For example, I really need mine. It means I can get back to my customers super-fast.

And, let’s face it, you’re possibly reading this Tip on yours!

But real life is better than virtual life.

Real people are better than virtual people.

And the person who’s speaking to you – the person who has gone through all the effort and emotion of preparing what they’re saying – is more important than any virtual person who isn’t there.

So here are some things to consider:

  • Download the App “Moment”. It shows how long you spend on your phone each day. This is very useful – and potentially alarming! – to know
  • Go and see your colleagues. As in, actually walk to their desks and have a conversation with them
  • In a meeting? Leave your phone in your bag
  • Speaking to your team? Ban everyone’s phones from the meeting
  • Away from the office? Spend time away from your phone
  • Going out for dinner? Leave your phone at home (I remember taking my teenage son Jack and three of his friends out for pizza. When we sat down, his friends took their phones out. I said “if you expect me to pay for this, the least you can do is speak to me”. Jack thought that was a fair enough request. They were amazed. I doubt they’d ever heard something like that before)
  • Going to bed? Leave your phone outside the bedroom. If you need it for an alarm clock, buy an alarm clock
  • And if you are going to Center Parcs, go swimming. Do the activities. Take a stroll. Row a boat. Have fun. Talk to your family and friends…

…because they are more important than anything else.

No matter what your phone says.

Action point

Spend less time on your phone.

Encourage your team to spend less time on theirs.

And that’s it.