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Smartphone Survival Guide: Human Interaction Still Comes First

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on January 12, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionOne of the biggest problems with smartphones isn’t the annoyance and interruption factor. It’s the fact that the same gadget that keeps you in touch with people at all times can create static between you and other human beings. So, how do you stay connected without losing touch or offending someone?

If you must choose between the human and the smartphone, choose the human. Smartphones are perfect for keeping in touch with colleagues who are in offices or on campuses far away … which means you shouldn’t overuse the phone around people who are already standing right in front of you. It’s one thing ot show off a cool app or introduce a person to the “Bed Intruder Song,” but it’s quite another to engage in a texting conversation with someone far away while an actual human being is trying to talk to you.

The person who wants to talk to you will feel like he or she gets only 50% of your attention, and that’s dehumanizing. Putting a text conversation above a real conversation is also a surefire way to piss off a boss or a colleague.

Image of an iPhone from 2007 by Roguegeek from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

For that reason, it’s okay to call out students for texting in class. If it’s an emergency, fine, but it’s not likely. You’ve probably seen the Cornell professor reaming a student for yawning in class. I found his reaction to be a tad dramatical, but he was right to call out the offender. If you text or do anything that indicates that you are bored when you are supposed to be paying attention, it’s the equivalent of yawning in their face. Some people you work with might consider it to be the equivalent of a middle finger. So, you’re doing students a favor if you tell them that texting in class is unacceptable. People may seem to get away with it in the Hamster World, but you never know if your boss is keeping score.

Schedule face-to-face meetings whenever possible. Smartphones probably reduce the number of meetings in your life because they make it easier and faster to relay information. That sounds awesome because meetings are such a time suck. Alas, they are also a necessary evil. You have to sit down and talk face-to-face sometimes in order to facilitate communication. Nuances get left out over text messages. For example, words that might seem insane in an email might make sense in a meeting, depending on how the words are delivered. I’m not advocating more meetings, but I am saying that smartphones aren’t a replacement for meetings, and getting everyone together in the same room can actually make a project move faster.

And, in the final installment of the smartphone survival guide, how to keep the smartphone from dumbing you down.

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