Is Technology Ruining Your Relationships?

I was out to lunch with my mom and daughter. I realized as I got settled at our table that my phone battery was very low. I figured I probably should turn it off to save the battery in case I needed it later. I hesitated as I pressed the power button. What if I miss something important? Nevertheless, I turned my phone off and began to eat. As it turned out, that afternoon with my mom was one of the best we’ve had. I was able to be fully present with my mom and my daughter. I eliminated the possibility of a phone call keeping me from making the most of that time together.

Photo courtesy of adactio at flickr.com

Photo courtesy of adactio at flickr.com

Is your technology keeping you from building and strengthening relationships? When you talk to someone, are you giving him/her your full attention? If you think you are multitasking, you are not doing either of the tasks well. You may not realize it, but your technology may be slowly and subtly ruining your relationships.

Here’s what happens when we become tied to our smart devices:

  1. We avoid initiating relationships with others. We communicate that we have no interest in meeting new people or expanding our circle.
  2. We neglect our existing relationships. We communicate that whatever we are doing on our smartphone is more important than our loved ones.

Now, you might be thinking, “I hear you, but what do I do when other people are glued to their devices?”

If you are in a situation when you want someone’s full attention and his face is buried in his phone or she is melting her brain in front of the TV, simply ask for his/her attention:

  • “John, could you please put your phone down? I would like to discuss something with you.”
  • “Kerry, could you pause the movie? I haven’t seen you in a while and I’d like some time together without distractions.”

Others may not realize that what they’re doing bothers you, but if it does, they need to respect that.

Here are some action steps to consider:

  • The next time you dine out with someone, turn your phone on silent and leave it in your pocket or purse.
  • When you’re working on the computer and a coworker approaches you, stop what you’re doing and turn to face him for the conversation. Take your hands completely off the keyboard and the mouse and give him your full attention.
  • Go offline when you’re at a family member’s house for a holiday gathering. If you have kids, leave the tablets behind. Encourage active play inside and outside. Go strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know very well and have the kids to do the same.  Nothing makes Grandma smile like having her great grand-baby snuggle on her lap and tell her a story.
  • If a loved one is recovering after a surgery or struggling with an illness, give her a call instead of texting. Consider offering to bring a meal and spend a few minutes chatting.
  • When a friend comes to visit or a family member comes home after a long day, pause or turn off the TV, stand up, and greet him.

Commit to one of the above action steps or come up with your own to suit your circumstances.

Start being more intentional about powering down here and there. Soak in the world around you. Show your loved ones how much you value time with them. Be fully present and don’t let another moment pass you by.

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