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Stop Reverting to Your Phone in Awkward Situations

Stop Reverting to Your Phone in Awkward Situations

We’re living in the zombie apocalypse. Everywhere you look, people are walking around mindlessly glued to their mobile Internet devices. For every Instagram photo, Facebook update, Tweet, Vine, like, fav, and comment you see online, there’s a slack-jawed, mouth-breathing zombie in the real world, staring at inanimate pieces of plastic (hint: you’re one of them).

I Am Legend…

Pets can do a lot of things. They can sense emotions, predict weather, and get to live their entire lives rent-free. One thing they can’t do is see the Internet. From your cat or dog’s perspective, you, staring at your phone all day, look more ludicrous than they do chasing their tails. Animals don’t need the Internet, so it’s not accessible to them.

Humans aren’t so lucky, unless they were born into an aristocracy. It’s no wonder so many people get lost in their imaginations and surf the Internet. All these interesting posts are just better than the mundane and painful world around us.

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That’s not the way it has to be.

We can be the change we want in the world. We can stop broadcasting our every thought, vision, and sound to the entire world. Instead of judging those younger than us for being attached to their phones and unable to socialize, or blaming older generations for developing the phones in the first place, we can internalize the blame and realize that we are the problem.

Being in any sort of awkward social situation used to be the catalyst for making new friends. Facing that awkwardness is what separated mice from men. That awkwardness is the ice everyone always talks about breaking. Without it, people are learning to hide from their fears, rather than face them. People aren’t learning to tread the ice.

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It doesn’t have to be that way, though. When you arrive early at a party, you can choose to keep your phone in your pocket and lend a hand. If you’re surrounded by people you don’t know, challenge yourself to spark a conversation with them. When you have delicious food, you can just eat it. Live in the moment.

You don’t need to fully disconnect from the grid. In case you haven’t noticed from the blog you’re reading online, I’m a blogger–I clearly believe in utilizing the Internet. We just need to be more mindful of our web usage instead of mindlessly connecting.

Break the habit…

We all have addictions, and you’re lying to yourself if you say you don’t. You may be in control of the cravings, but you can’t deny their existence. If you’re unsure whether or not using your smartphone is an addiction, here’s a litmus test:

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Go hang out with a group of people–any people will do, but you can use friends if you’d like. When they pull their phone out and start playing with it, do you have the urge to pull yours out? If you don’t think that’s a sign of addiction, you’re suffering from the same denial as smokers and alcoholics.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. Now that you’ve taken the vital step of recognizing both your addiction (using your smartphone) and triggers (awkward situations), you can look for other ways to handle those situations without using your phone.

I know it’s scary–it’s scary for all of us–but it’s possible. You can face your nerves and take those awkward moments on. It doesn’t take some pompous speech or grand gesture. Simply say, “no phones allowed,” when you’re around people. Break the ice with a quick 10-20 second bit about how people are always so attached to their phones that conversation and connection have become a lost art.

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…and go from there.

Featured photo credit: eliasfalla via pixabay.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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