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Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych

We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.

New Season, New Habit!  How to Show Up Being More Present When Spending Time with People IRL

You’re so excited to finally have lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile, which is probably not usual given everyone’s busy schedules. Your friend is already sitting at the table and barely notices when you sit down because she is engaged in a text. You say your hellos and she picks up her phone again, “I’m so sorry-I am waiting to see what the coach is going to do about my daughter’s practice tonight-I heard it might be canceled because of the anticipated storms.” You totally understand because you have been there.  You start a conversation and she gets a “ping”, about a work situation, so she responds. You try to pick up where you were interrupted or start a new conversation, but then comes another interruption.  She is the picture of absent presence-there in physical being, but the attention is elsewhere.


Accessible doesn’t mean available


Back before the smartphone came along, we were neither totally accessible nor always available. There was a landline that took voice mails and emails were answered from a laptop or desktop. Our smartphone is our computer, phone, camera, organizer, and leash that makes us more accessible, but does not guarantee that we are more available. Just because someone is calling, doesn’t mean we have to answer at that exact minute. We have the freewill to respond when we can give the other person the attention they deserve.  


We can show up being more present with people IRL with a Stop, Drop, and Respond List


Do you control your device or does it control you?  Devices and their wondrous capacities are intended to make our lives easier, but have they become the electronic leash?  Unless we set and maintain boundaries, we are living behind an open glass door for every text, email, call, DM, and notification.  The Stop, Drop, and Respond list is only for contacts that truly warrant either an emergency or something so crucial that it’s necessary to interrupt our show, meal, meeting, or current task.  My Stop, Drop, and Respond list consists of the school/camp nurse for my sons and the house alarm company.  Of course, the list changes as people have crucial experiences, but everyone else should have boundaries.


We can show up being more present with people IRL through a code/signal for your family and friends to let you know when you need to stop what you are doing


You know it’s a real emergency when people contact you outside of their normal hours, like calling in the middle of the night. When close contacts like kids, elderly relatives, colleagues, and friends reach out during “regular” hours, is it always something that needs to be dealt in that moment? Unless there is a crisis or something major going on, most people can wait until you finish your meal, business meeting, or other activity. In the event they are in crisis, request they text 911 or some other special code before the message; rather than blow up your phone, which might be inappropriate in your current situation. 


We can show up being more present with people IRL by rescheduling if there is something that might make you seem absent


We don’t like to cancel plans, be in absent presence, or be ignored. However, what is the point if you are going to be that person who has crucial online activity at that moment? Save yourself the hassle and frustration balancing your attention with the divergent needs. Show your friends respect if you can’t be there to fully interact with them.


What about you?

Make the most of people when you are with them. Be the person you need on the other side of the table, even though he/she/they might not be in full present presence with you. Maybe they were never taught or forgot how to be the example. Who is on your Stop, Drop, and Respond list?

Hi Beautiful Readers and thank you for reading this! I'm Dr. Joanne Broder, Media Psychologist, Author, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Please consider me to help you write your memoir, blogs, speeches, e-books, as well as coach you on your dissertation or thesis.  Click here so we can connect!

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