A Relationship Quality Hack To Get 21% Back

Technology can be a telescope that helps you zoom in and focus on something in a way impossible without it. However, in some cases it can be more like the four legged chair that the lion tamer uses in a circus as one of his primary tools in working with lions. The points of the four legs of the chair bobbing around tend to perplex the lion, and the dilemma of which of the four legs to focus on mentally paralyzes the lion, and distracts him from thinking about the tasty lion-trainer.  All of us know of many of the downsides of the technology we enjoy.  However there is one surprisingly simple thing that you could change to get back more than 21% of the relationship quality you might be losing.

Little did anyone know that ever since February 4, 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm, the way people socialize and share life experiences would never be the same.

In October 2008 Apple announced that they had sold 4.7 million iPhones in the summer quarter giving it nearly 13% of the smartphone market (in 2015 it was up to 18.7%).

According to the Human Performance institute, to be fully engaged, you must be

physically energized,

emotionally connected,

mentally focused and

spiritually aligned.

The degree to which we are capable of being fully engaged has a giant impact on our well-being and success in life.

The Q12 meta-analysis of 1.4 million employees performed by Gallup in 2012 showed just how vital the level of engagement of individuals is in the workplace.

The data showed that business or work units that score in the top half of their organization in employee engagement have nearly double the odds of success.

Unfortunately 71% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their work.

Not being fully engaged results in a poor stress and recovery balance in our lives not only physically, but



and spiritually, which results in a marathon-like lifestyle.

This lifestyle doesn’t line up with the natural pulsating rhythm of our bodies and many other sectors of our life,

which are more like a series of sprints as opposed to one long marathon.

A study has revealed that out of the 92% of Americans who own cell phones, half (52%) of them use their cell phones for engagement, diversion, or interaction with other people while watching TV. (The Rise of the Connected Viewer – July 17, 2012 by Aaron Smith, Jan Lauren Boyles).

Michael Hyatt, one of the most successful bloggers of our time said

Multi-tasking is a myth.”

Technology has helped this mythical “multi-tasking” tendency to seep into all kinds of areas of our lives.

It’s one thing to go on Facebook if you’re not particularly entertained by what you’re watching on TV.

However, the moment I realized I’m in trouble was when one of my kids was trying to tell me something, and I unintentionally pulled out my phone and started checking something.

I can’t stand when my wife does that, when I’m trying to tell her something.

Neither can she stand it when I’m not really listening to her fully, because I’m looking at my phone.

I remember a time when I intentionally didn’t want to have the Facebook app on my phone.

I figured why have that distraction on my phone?  I can check Facebook from my computer when I’m home and have time.  I would judge people who were always looking at Facebook on their phones.

Now that’s a memory from long ago in my social-media-sober past.

Most of us are smartphoneaholics, but we’re afraid to admit it.

So how much do our phones actually affect our relationships?

More than we think they do, and it’s even more subtle than you might think.

We can see one tiny piece of the answer to this large question by looking at the results of an experiment.

Don’t look at this GIF animation.  It is trying to distract you from my important blog post.



Andrew K. and Przybylski Netta of Weinstein University of Essex, UK, used a scientific approach to measure how the presence of mobile technology might influence the quality of face-to-face conversation quality.

Seventy-four participants who never met prior were asked to sit in chairs facing each other randomly assigned to one of two conditions:

(a) phone absent     or     (b) phone present.

For those assigned to the phone-present condition, a nondescript mobile phone rested on a book, which was placed on a nearby desk outside participants’ direct visual field.

In the phone-absent condition, a pocket notebook replaced the phone.

Dyads were asked to engage in one of two types of conversation

(a) a casual conversation, and (b) a moderately intimate topic.

The end result of the experiment demonstrated that the presence of a mobile phone in the laboratory (not being held or used) leads to lower levels of relationship quality, trust and empathy.

In the casual conversations the difference between the presence of the mobile phone or the note pad was relatively insignificant, whereas in the more important conversations the presence of the phone reduced the level of

Relationship Quality by 21%,

Partner Trust by 35% and

Partner Empathy by 24%.

This study specifically focused on individuals who were strangers to each other.

Notice that the presence or absence of the phone affected the quality of the conversation more when it was the more important conversations as opposed to the casual ones.

Thus, all the more, this is true even more so in conversations with loved ones.

The more important the person is to you, the more full engagement counts.

So, don’t just turn on the “DON’T DISTURB” mode on your phone, next time you’re meeting with someone.

Keep the thing out of sight!  And get 21% relationship quality back.


What are some of struggles you face in navigating the mobile technology that is now such a big part of our lives?

Please comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts.


If this post was relevant to you, then you might like these posts also:

What to do when you feel like a ghost with your kids

The one thing that will make your kids listen to you long after they don’t have to

The text only my wife was supposed to read




Image courtesy of Meal Makeover Moms on Flickr




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