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5 Phone Habits That Are Destroying Your Relationship (And How To Fix Them)

5 Phone Habits That Are Destroying Your Relationship (And How To Fix Them)

They used to say a man’s best friend is his dog. In the 21st century, it seems that the fluffy pet has been replaced by the smartphone. Everywhere you go these days, half of the population seems to be gazing, tapping, and swiping at their phones. Sometimes, this can be annoying — like those people who charge towards you on the street, heads down, thinking they can successfully walk and text at the same time.

However, when it comes to relationships, being a phone-zombie can have more serious effects. New research shows that romantic partners who devote too much attention to their phones suffer more conflict and experience lower levels of relationship satisfaction, which ultimately can lead to higher levels of depression.

A study of 453 adults from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business looked at the relationship effects of Pphubbing — that is, “partner” phone-snubbing. Unsurprisingly, researchers found that participants felt snubbed and ignored when their romantic partners were constantly distracted by their phones.

The study asked participants a range of questions about their partner’s phone habits including:

  • If there is a lull in our conversation, does my partner check their phone?
  • Does my partner hold their phone in their hand when they are with me?
  • Does my partner always have to have their phone in view when they are with me?
  • Does my partner glance at their cellphone when we’re talking?

Ultimately, the study found that phone snubbing had an indirect negative effect on life satisfaction and depression.

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So, is there anything you can you do about partner phone-snubbing? Well the first thing is to become more mindful. Don’t reach for your phone every time there’s a gap in conversation. But, there are also some practical tips you can apply to ensure your phone doesn’t ruin your relationship.

1. Turn off all your push notifications

Push notifications are the little symbols and icons that pop-up on your phone, even when you’re logged out. Facebook messages, email alerts, Retweets, Instagram Likes. These are all nice things to have, but do you really need to be notified instantly, every time they happen?

The ping of a new notification is often too irresistible to ignore. So, do yourself and your partner a favour: turn off all your push notifications. They’re a distraction and they can destroy intimate moments with your partner.

(Cheater’s tip: if you can’t completely do without push-notifications, at least set them to silent!)

2. Set a cut-off time for work emails and phone calls

Email was supposed to free us from the tyranny of being tied to the work desk. Instead, it has meant that we increasingly bring our work back home with us. Sure, it’s great to have instant access to the latest updates in your work inbox, but ask yourself, do you really need to check your work emails at 10 pm?

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Understandably, if you’re climbing the career ladder or trying to impress your boss, you might want to put in some extra time at home away from the office. But if you’re a 9-5-er and make a habit of reading and responding to work-related matters at home, your employer and your colleagues will eventually just get used to your 24/7 availability. Before you know it, you’ve lost all sense of work-life balance, you burn-out, and your relationship suffers.

So set yourself a cutoff, say 7 pm, as a time for clocking out of your virtual office. After that, be determined not to read any emails or answer any phone calls related to work, unless you think it’s putting your career in jeopardy.

3. Start implementing screen-free time

How many screens have you got at home? Count them: TV, computer, laptop, tablet, phone, gaming console — probably quite a few if you’re like most households. But screens weren’t designed to foster romantic relationships — apart from curling up together on the sofa for some Netflix.

Screen-time is usually about me-time, and this obviously isn’t a great thing for relationships. In an earlier era, troubled couples used to read separate newspapers in silence. These days, we often sit next our loved ones, hypnotized, not by looking into each other’s eyes, but into our iPhones.

Setting aside some dedicated time each night where both of you vow not to spend time in front of the screen (unless it’s something you do together) will create more opportunity for intimacy, conversation, and generally just being together as a couple.

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4. Keep your phone out of view

This hack is super simple and super effective — out of sight, out of mind. What better way to rid yourself of the temptation to pick up your phone at every spare minute than to move it into another room. Don’t use the bedroom for the best results, and try and keep your phone out of the living spaces, maybe in the hallway or even the kitchen.

This way, next time you’re tempted to refresh your Twitter feed, or curious to see if anyone has posted another cat video on Facebook, you’ll be actively forced to get up and fetch your phone, rather than just lazily reaching over the sofa… or your partner.

Even better, keep your phone tethered, on charge — like a dog on a leash. Don’t be tempted to unplug it until you really have to (playing Candy Crush in the bathroom doesn’t count). Soon, you’ll come to realise that life does not come to an end when you’re more than a meter away from your phone. And more importantly, your romantic partner won’t feel like they’re competing for your attention anymore.

5. Turn off your phone 30 minutes before bed

It’s becoming more acceptable to take your phone to bed these days. We kid ourselves that we’re just using it as an alarm clock, deep down we know that’s not true. We’re checking out social media, reading the news, or playing games. A recent survey found that 3% of young people actually sleep with their smartphone in their hand!

According to sleep specialists, the bedroom should be reserved for two things — sleep and sex. The bedroom should be a sanctuary for relaxation and intimacy. Bringing the phone into the bedroom is like inviting the outside world, with all its excitement and stimulation, into a space that should be tranquil, peaceful, and private.

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Another thing to bear in mind is that smartphone screens emit blue light. Recent research has shown that exposing yourself to blue light at night stops the brain from producing melatonin — the “drowsy hormone” that helps us fall asleep.

So, if you want to improve the quality of your relationship AND get better sleep at night, it’s wise to consider a total ban on phones in the bedroom. Give yourself a 30-minute gap between spending time with your phone and hitting the sack. You never know, you might enjoy it.

Featured photo credit: Canalway Cavalcade 2013 – 10/Garry Knight via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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