Stop phubbing: Start listening


Prof Rajini Anand
IBS Business School

It's irrefutable that technology has become such an intricate part of our lives .Cell phones have revolutionised the human existence. Geography is now history with several mobile ruling our very existence. However, just like every coin has another side to it, technology is not free from ills. Nowadays when our phone is not there in the palm of our hand, we face separation anxiety, also called nomophobia. Conversely, our disintegrating social skills are another point of concern. We live in such an artificial world today where we spend time together but don't actually speak. Phubbing, also known as phone snubbing is one such serious issue which is fast becoming a universal problem for the society. In this article, we shall examine how serious phubbing as a behaviour can become and what can be done about it.

Whether it is being part of waiting lines, queues or being part of family gatherings spending time with an electronic device has become an all too common scenario.

The behaviour of phubbing is clearly an unintended consequence of the greater electronic connectivity of mankind; sacrificing individual human's to become disconnected, losing the art of conversation and real interaction.  Ignoring the person in front of you in favor of your phone is akin to snubbing that person.

The term phubbing was coined by Alex Haigh, a 23 year old University graduate from Melbourne, Australia who started The Stop Phubbing campaign to spread awareness about this pervading social issue.Haigh who has spent considerable time working in cafes and restaurants has witnessed and experienced phubbing from people sitting together and yet not talking.

Whilst phubbing is a coined term and is new to our lexis, Haigh suggests that the best way to reduce phubbing behaviour is to directly use the word at the person who is phubbing. Therefore, asking people to stop phubbing is definitely more powerful than accusing them of ignoring them.

Phubbing while communicating

Of all the different types of communication, there is nothing to beat face to face communication which has a special quality of it's own. However face to face communication seems to be a thing of the past for we live in such an artificial world today where we spend time together but don't actually speak.

There is indeed a special quality about interacting with someone face to face. It is much easier to judge by reading emotions, expressions and their para verbal tone.

Tips for mobile detox for personal relationships

a. While you are out with family or friends, consciously keep your mobiles switched off. Your equipment should be out of sight and out of mind for those precious few hours.

b. Change the status of mobile applications to avoid getting disturbed.

c. Practice mindfulness in listening while you are conversing with close ones. Shower full attention to the communicator before you.

Phubbing at the workplace

Though our ability to multitask is getting better at the workplace, it can go a little too far at times thereby giving out a negative message in the workplace. Checking whatsapp messages or mails with one ear in the meeting gives an impression to our managers that we are not paying attention.

What to do?

a. It is imperative in today's age for organisations to have policies regarding use of social media, phone etiquette and even phubbing. Even in the absence of such policies, managers and team leaders can work with their teams and come to an agreement regarding some basic standards.

b. While the superior may need to set limits regarding use of mobile, individuals also need to take responsibility while using cell phones. Specified ground rules could be to avoid carrying mobiles during meetings, presentations and other crucial corporate conversations. In the event, this is unavoidable, the status of applications likes whatsapp and emails may be changed to busy/at work etc to avoid getting disturbed.

c. Turn your phone off while in a meeting as the person who is to be met warrants your full attention.

Quite often, idleness or boredom in an activity can lead to persistent behaviour of checking mobiles. Keeping the conversation at hand engaging, more meaningful, indulging in any activity which is mentally stimulating will go a long way in improving personal and professional relationships

Prof Rajini Anand
IBS Business School

Source: E-mail August 14, 2015


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