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Simple Trick to Improve Your Relationships

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

It’s no secret that relationships – both professional and personal – have changed since the invention cell phones and social media. How often have you been in a group of people or talking to a friend only to find that everyone keeps checking their phones or their social media feeds instead of conversing with each other? And, more than likely, you’re guilty of this too (I know I am).

Studies show that when someone uses a cell phone during a conversation, it makes them seem less trustworthy and less empathetic. If you use your phone or even just pull it out of your bag to check to see if you have any messages, you’re hurting your relationships. You’re letting the person you’re with know that there are other people you want to be connecting with in that moment, and it puts a wall up that prevents closeness.

If you’re anything like the majority of people, it’s a habit to check your phone constantly, to carry it with you even when you don’t need it. I sometimes think I’m hearing my phone vibrate even when it’s not (evidently this is a sign of phone addiction). What would happen if you stopped pulling your phone out when you were supposed to be having a face-to-face conversation with someone else?

  1. People will follow your lead. When someone pulls their phone out and you don’t pull yours out as well, they feel pressured to put it away and keep it away. We all know it’s rude and most of the time, totally unnecessary, but we check our phones anyways because it’s a habit.
  2. You will engage with people on a deeper level. Your listening skills will improve and people will respond by laughing or smiling, or asking thoughtful questions. People will notice your genuine interest in them and will become genuinely interested in you.
  3. People will trust you more. When you show people that you are focused on them and their concerns or stories with genuine interest, it is only natural that they will grow to trust you. They will come back to you when they need something, and there will be an open invitation to come to them when you need something. Imagine how much better your professional relationships would be if you felt you could go to any person in the office with a question, and if they felt they could come to you.

Now you know why to ditch your phone when in the company of others, but how do you resist checking your feeds and messages constantly? Turn your phone off, put it in your bag or somewhere out of reach. Reward yourself at the end of a meeting or dinner with a friend, but only if you didn’t check your phone once. It will become easier as time goes on and both your professional and personal relationships will benefit.

Source: The Muse