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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 In the 21st century, it seems that the fluffy pet has been replaced by the smartphone.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 May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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