My New Years Resolution for 2013: Put Away the Phone!


Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are. Jose Ortega y Gasset

Compassion begins with attention. Daniel Goleman

Want to take one simple step to improve your relationships, your family life, and your work relationships in 2013?

Join me in my 2013 New Years Resolution to put away the mobile device and/or phone during any meeting or meal. 

I confess that this is a struggle for me. Whether it is a Facebook post, or a text message, or a call, I have placed myself in a situation where I am at the beckon call of every acquaintance, friend and co-worker 24/7. As technology becomes all the more pervasive, and as that relationship network grows, I’m finding myself overwhelmed with constant contact so that I can rarely be fully present to another person without distraction.

But I will be honest that I learned my lesson about “checking and texting” from being the recipient of this behavior from others. I looked forward to catching up with a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time over dinner, and he spent the entire dinner responding to text messages. I go to a client meeting, and the person running the meeting checks her texts and emails repeatedly while I am talking. I recently attended a family gathering where the person I most wanted to see spent most of the evening with her new phone. I’ve been in multiple business meetings where someone couldn’t quit checking their phone and who felt they must respond to every call immediately.

The message we give to others when we divide our attention between them and whatever may be happening on our phones is that they are less important, or that we are bored. Furthermore, as Daniel Goleman points out in the quote above, we can only become compassionate if we listen to a person with full attention so that we are able to understand them. Furthermore, real engagement requires active listening and response.

If we give our full selves, and our attention, to the people in our presence, our relationships will blossom and hold even more potential than we might otherwise experience. There is also wisdom in allowing those who contact us to wait for a response, for boundaries create healthy relationships at work and at home. Besides, sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder.

I encourage you to join me in my resolution for 2013 to put away the phone during meetings and meals. The most exciting and interesting things happening in our lives really are “right here,” and not “out there.” If you believe that, and if you join me in living congruently with it, my guess is that we all will be surprised what could happen in this new year.

One Response to “My New Years Resolution for 2013: Put Away the Phone!”
  1. Debbie Pauls says:

    Todd, I couldn’t agree more. As a “professional listener” I know the value in full attention. I seldom receive it, but when I do, I notice and sure do appreciate it. Technology is a marvel, but it is tool to be used, not worshiped.

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