I could stop whenever I want to

HumanergyCommunication Discipline StrategicI could stop whenever I want to




I could stop whenever I want to

You’re addicted to your smartphone.  So what? Isn’t that a pretty socially acceptable compulsion – one that helps you be more efficient and effective? The term “Crackberry” isn’t considered to be universally negative. If you’re hyper-connected, you’re considered to be technologically advanced and in demand.

Perhaps you question whether you’re really addicted. Maybe you really could stop whenever you want to. So why do you break into a cold sweat if you inadvertently leave the house without it? Why can’t you turn it off or ignore it?

What are the downsides to this habit?

You devalue the people around you. If you interrupt conversations to answer email or take calls, you are giving the message that the current activity is less valuable to you than whatever’s happening on your phone.

You lose valuable “stare out the window” time. Constant connection prevents you from devoting blocks of time to thoughtful reflection.This thinking time is a necessary leadership activity – allowing for deep thinking about the strategic priorities that need your attention.

Email, in particular, is addictive. Psychologists are identifying email addiction as a growing problem. People become obsessive about checking email. Receiving satisfying (funny, informative or whatever you find fulfilling) email happens intermittently. That is the most potent kind of habit-forming reinforcement, and what causes some folks to constantly scan their inboxes.  They even have a name for it – “variable ratio reinforcement!”

You think you’re constantly needed. Perhaps the most insidious of the smartphone addiction symptoms is the underlying message of importance. If you’re connected 24/7, it must be because your input is always essential. Recognize that often the issue is yours (I need to be “in the know”) and not theirs. People will survive without you. They even learn to make decisions and grow as leaders without you standing in the way.

Before you come to the conclusion that your smartphone use isn’t a problem, try turning it off a few hours each day. Take a walk. Think expansively. Then come back, refreshed and ready to tackle the work that really does require your time and talent.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!

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Comments (6)

  1. Hi. LOVE these bits of info!!! Please clarify if this CAN or can NOT be shared. It appears to be encouraged based on this page but the email that the link appeared in said the following:

    This message and any included attachments are from Humanergy, Inc., and are intended only for the addressee(s). The information contained herein may include trade secrets or privileged or otherwise confidential information. Unauthorized review, forwarding, printing, copying, distributing, or using such information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you received this message in error, or have reason to believe you are not authorized to receive it, please promptly delete this message and notify the sender by e-mail with a copy to christi@humanergy.com.

    P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

    1. Yes, please share our blog posts freely! You are duly authorized! Thanks for pointing this out, and in future we’ll eliminate this wording from our emails re: blog!

  2. I knew I wasn’t that important that I always needed to be connected, but it is hard not to want your colleagues to think this. After I type this message, I am going to take a break and appreciate the blue sky and sunshine!

  3. Unfortunately, this has a real resonance about it. I do not think it is just an issue of age and grumpy old people.
    Being on tap means not missing out. Machines rule. They are not servants but Masters. Whatever comes on a machine takes precedence over everything else. People come a distant second. Witness when the phone rings or an e-mail message comes in. More unfortunately, we have both generated and reinforced the expectation of instant response. This leads to the apparent need to be always available. As well, we do not want to miss out on anything, business or social. I e-mailed you is often a condemning or justifying response to the absence of personal communication. We have to be part of this culture, otherwise we miss out. We cannot make a difference. Is this the reality?
    Building up a reliable and dependable image and/or profile can be a counter to the need to be available 24/7. The ability to prioritise and provide timely, useful responses is a huge asset that is valued by all, even if infrequently acknowledged. Being available is sometimes just an end in itself, for both parties. Being able to contribute in a meaningful way is in another dimension. Creating the necessary environment takes time. One may have to be part of the problem for a time to get to a solution. Example can be a wonderful teacher as we have observed in many spheres over the years.

  4. Janice, Christi, all I would add to the sharing conversation is acknowledge the source and if possible let us now – we love to know where we are having a broader impact. Thanks for asking

  5. Sir Pat’s comment on machines being more important than people resonated… by acting this way we treat people literally as objects (see: Leadership & Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute). All the people I know who have met any of the last three Presidents (U.S.) say that for the moment they were talking to them they felt like the most important on the President’s mind. They have mastered the ability to be present, which in turn demonstrates that they value the person they are with.

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