Kim weighs in on annoying cell phone distractions

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Dear Kim,

I think you might have answered something like this before, so I hope it’s worth repeating.  How in the world do you get people to step away from their cell phones?  I get so tired of trying to have a face-to-face conversation with someone, only to have them pick up their phone to read or answer a text, reply to an email or check out a Facebook notification.  What’s a person to do?



Dear Suzanne,

You are so right!!!  This is such a common problem that has taken over our society.  There was a lady just yesterday, holding up the check-out line in the grocery store because she was texting instead of paying the cashier.  It is very frustrating.

Back in the old days, these interruptions only occurred with people who had significant positions in the world.  By that, I mean a doctor or other skilled professional who needed to be “on-call” twenty-four hours a day.  These interruptions were an expected because they were protecting or saving lives.  Nowadays, everyone is connected all the time.  What did we ever do without this technology at our fingertips!?

Seriously though, the only real answer is unless you’re the person paying the phone bill you have no control.  With friends and family, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask them to put their phone away while you’re engaging them in conversation or activity.  I know I’ve told my kids to put their phones away.  I also have strict rules around the dinner table.  There is such a thing as manners, but we can’t teach them to everyone on the street.  So, for other people, we can’t dictate what they do.  I know if I was interacting with someone and they pick up their phone, I might say something like, “Is that an emergency?”  Most likely, they’ll say no and allow you to finish your conversation.  What I say most often is that kindness generally goes over better than being snippy.  To the young lady in the grocery store, I said (with a smile on my face), “hey kiddo, you’re up!”  She looked up from her phone, said “sorry” and paid for her groceries.  No harm done.  Sometimes, all we can do is try to be patient.  Good luck.

Have a question?  Ask Kim!

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