Look Up. It Can Be Addictive.

Women are being told to “lean in” to advance their careers; others are encouraged to lean out. I’ve got some advice that’s gender-neutral and is in response to a troublesome trend permeating society, from business meetings to social gatherings, from conference rooms to concert halls, from boardrooms to, um, bedrooms. The advice? Look Up! Move your focus from your phone to your physical environment and you’ll be pleased with the meaningful connections you can make in real-time.

This is not a lecture to stop texting, emailing, posting or pinning.  Rather, it’s a reminder to be in the moment. To embrace the conversation in front of you without the distraction of the cloud. Without the addictive need to upload a photo, tweet a thought or respond to an email that really can wait. Sometimes you must look down and away, sending out an important message or just taking a break from the real world. It’s forgivable.

I am sometimes guilty of Looking Down and I try to catch myself – before I either walk into a wall or become so disoriented with what’s being discussed in the room that I’m scrambling to come up with something smart to say to prove I was listening. But those of us who regularly Look Down are not fooling anyone. Over time, you become “that person” who is always on her phone, that person who has better things to do than Look Up and engage. That person who thinks sending a Selfie in the middle of a meal with colleagues will keep you in the loop, in the know. Don’t be that person.

In the business of communications, it is imperative that we listen and engage. We are storytellers, and the cumulative effect of always Looking Down is we miss the story. For those in management or mentoring positions, modeling the Look Up behavior will go a long way toward creating knowledgeable and focused apprentices who will not only learn to Look Up and listen, but will inevitably look up to you as a shining example of restraint and engagement in a noisy, digital world.

— Diane Schwartz


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  • Lucinda Ellison Lu

    Excellent post — it hit me this summer when my own children pointed out to me that while on vacation, I was always on my phone and checking email. We are missing out on life and real personal interaction. We as adults can no longer criticize the younger generation for “always texting” when we are “leading by example.”

  • Johnny

    Engaging with others and our planet is what really makes this world a beautiful place, the fun and excitement of physical and mental stimulation, along with experiencing the phenomena of nature is what it truly means to be alive!
    Human interaction also drives innovation and presents opportunity for building business relationships.

  • http://allpointspr.com/development-publicity Jamie Izaks

    This can actually apply to young adults entering the work force. Many of them have the same problems such as addiction to being on social media, it’s difficult to break that addiction while at work.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/GentryDesignCompany Tamra M. Gentry

    Excellent post!

    I composed a rather long comment on this, but I decided to post this instead. I think this illustration is pretty poignant. => http://zenpencils.com/comic/129-marc-maron-the-social-media-generation/

    Given my observations of fellow humans on a day to day basis, I find the “Look Down”/social-media-culture scary in terms of what it means with regard to restraint, self-awareness, attention spans, quality of work done in the workplace, the ability to show empathy, etc.

    Look up, indeed.