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

Here are three simple things that will change your life ...


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

If we're not careful we'll lose our social skills and become human robots which can easily be replaced by machines!

If we're not careful we'll lose our social skills and become human robots which can easily be replaced by machines!

copyright: ilexx / 123rf

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.

This interesting article on startsat60.com backs this up, and for many of us, we need to admit that its gone way beyond a distraction and it is more like an addiction.

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!"

Below is a graph that shows how social skills at work are growing in importance, so it might seem a drastic move by Samuel Smith, but it is also an important one and might be the norm in the future.

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.

Until next time ...


Would you like to know more?

If you'd like to find out more about relearning social skills for your team, do give me a call on 01908 511 062, leave a comment below, or click here to ping over an email and let's see how I can help you.

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About Debra Stevens ...


I'm the founder of DTS, which was established in 1996. A highly successful experiential training company specialising in facilitating behavioural change in all aspects of dealings with people, whether in customer service, sales, management or with colleagues and teammates.

I've managed large contracts such as Pearson Education, Coca Cola, Penguin Books, Accenture, and Santander for over 21 years and have built up excellent relationships with key sponsors of all aspects of the businesses.

I'm a successful trainer, writer and speaker with nearly 30 years' experience of training people at all levels.


01908 511 062