Can’t stand talking to someone who keeps checking their phone? Or, contrariwise, are you the kind of guy who quick-draws his iPhone whenever it buzzes? Chances are, you’re pissing off whomever you’re talking to, and it’s ruining your relationship.
In a study published in Environment and Behaviour, researchers found that the mere presence of a phone can impact conversations. Researchers approached one hundred pairs of people (109 women, average age of 33) in cafes around Washington DC. They asked the pairs to chat for ten minutes, either about something trivial or the most significant events of the past year. Researchers observed from a discreet distance, noting whether either one of the pair put a phone on the table or had one in their hand. After ten minutes, researchers had the pairs fill out questionnaires about there conversation.
People rated their interconnectedness (e.g., “I felt close to my conversation partner”) lower if they were in a pair that had a phone on the table or in someone’s hand. Likewise, people in these pairs had lower levels of empathy for each other (e.g., “My conversation partner didn’t make an effort to understand my thoughts or feelings.”). Results were similar to matter what was discussed.
This brings us to a pretty obvious conclusion: put your damn phone down. Here’s an even better idea: if you’re with someone, turn the damn thing off. Unless you’re a doctor, nobody needs you that badly.