Use It Or Lose It! Social Skills Could Be A Thing Of The Past

Yesterday, UK pub chain Samuel Smith Old Brewery announced they are banning the use of mobile phones in its pubs ...

People will have to go outside to use them, which is the same as if they wanted to smoke. The company have said that it is, "a bid to encourage social conversations". I have also started to see more signs in bars and restaurants in London that say, "no phones allowed, you will have to talk to each other instead!".

The French House in London happily announces there are, "no music, no machines, no television and no mobile phones", which makes them a hit with the city's storytellers and the occasional famous face dodging phone cameras.

"They're strict on their ban, too, and will happily kick out anyone breaking the rules!"

So, will this be a trend? I hope so, as it might take something drastic for us to use our social skills as there is more and more proof that the use of technology is eroding them.

Everywhere you go you notice it, walk outside and you will see people with their faces buried in their smartphones, reading emails and checking Facebook and other social media. Of course, mobile phones are a brilliant way to stay in touch and give us hours of entertainment, but experts now agree that they are having a detrimental effect on our social skills and our ability to engage with others.

When your screen distracts you during conversations with friends, colleagues, and family, it can start to damage these relationships even though they are probably doing the same thing. In my own family, I noticed that we would all place our phones on the table when we went out for a meal and having them upside down doesn't diminish their power.

The World Economic Forum 'Future of Work' report states that social skills will be increasingly important in the future as we strive to remain competitive against automation and Artifical Intelligence. What I have noticed is we are creating a generation of human robots, which are workers that just goes through the motions, are reasonability efficient, but you get no engagement or commitment to be human from them. You hear the words "have a nice day", or even, "thank you for your custom", but it has no empathy or humanness to us at all.

"If you want to remain competitive, you need to refine or relearn your social skills!"

So, how can we help ourselves to flex our social muscles to keep them fit and strong? Below are 3 of my best suggestions that are practical, experiential and work, but they are not for the faint-hearted because they push you outside your comfort zone. They will wake you up and remind you what it feels like to be human:

  • Ninja Listening

    So, rather than getting on a train, finding a seat where no one else is, and immediately start looking at Twitter avoiding eye contact with anyone just in case, god forbid they try to engage in conversation, you instead strike up a conversation.

    "But Debra, this means I will open myself up to all sorts of people!" Yes it will and that's the point, you have to trust me on this; it's strange at first because we are not used to it anymore. I have been doing this for a whole month now and it's amazing! The stories you hear and the people you meet.

    When we are on our phones we forget that we are missing out on possible opportunities to enrich our lives, so if you are serious about developing your skills of engagement then give it a try for just one month (by the way it can be a café, bar, waiting room or bus, not just on the train you; can't use that as an excuse).

  • Leave your phone where you can't see it

    Now, this one is going to take a lot of will power. When you are with anyone else, even if they have theirs visible, keep yours out of view. This is really hard, but what I found is that I became super aware of how many times I go to my phone when I'm in conversation with people, to solve an argument, research something, or make a point.

    However, it always breaks the connection with the other person; there is nothing wrong with real debate and discussion ... it doesn't always need Google.

  • Have a family meal where phones are not allowed

    Whether that is at home or out to dinner in a restaurant. It makes me so sad to see family's out to enjoy time together, and every one of them (including the baby) is on some sort of screen. What is the point? I promise you this is life changing, your kids might hate you at first, but they will thank you for it in the end. Mine certainly did.

  • Three simple things that will change your life, restore balance and improve your social engagement skills, give them a try and if you spot me on a train don't hesitate to say hello.

    If you're interested in training that sticks for your brand, do call me on 01908 511 062 or leave a comment below and let's see how I can help you.