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The best gift you can ever give.

The best gift you can ever give.

Being receptive means being open. It means being willing to consider another point of view, weighing the facts and maybe even changing your mind. This week I want to challenge you and your receptiveness with a very touchy subject. It’s about our collective addiction. We are all addicted to our devices, so much so that to even consider going without them for just a day is practically unthinkable.


I’m addicted to my phone and my iPad too.

I’ve tried to cut back on my addiction but there it is. My guess is your story probably isn’t too different than mine. You’d like to be less reliant on your devices but what’s the alternative? My business relies on me being reachable. We work remotely so if I’m out of touch, things don’t get done. That means my phone is with me wherever I go. I’m an open book my phone tracks me 24 hours a day,  just about every app on my phone makes no secret about the fact that they collect vast amounts of personal information all used to hook me into using their apps more. The companies that make these apps couldn’t be happier. The more I engage the more they encourage me to engage. There is absolutely no incentive for them to help me with my addiction, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. They’re all competing for my attention so as a result, it is a very broken system with no checks or balances. We allow into it our lives but make no mistake there is a cost and it’s no small cost. Our relationships, our time, even our democracy is under attack. You might think I’m being dramatic and it’s no big deal but take a look around and what do you see. Everywhere you go our main focus is on our phone. So we know we can’t give these things up, for most of us our livelihood depends on our participation, but that doesn’t mean we’re helpless.


The best gift you can give to anyone

The best gift you can give to anyone is your undivided attention, it is an extremely rare commodity these days. Being 100% open, 100% engaged and  100 % present without distractions is what we all desire. The human mind is geared to pick up on nonverbal social clues, it is hardwired in for survival. We are social creatures who have relied on each other for millions of years. It’s in our DNA, it's basically an, I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine, sort of thing.  So in other words, Relationships = Survival in our primitive lizard brains. What we hear and what see are important to our understanding of the relationships we build. Our minds interpret certain nonverbal stimuli on a conscious and subconscious level, often without us ever fully recognizing it. We just get a feeling where this is cool, that’s not. Most of the time we're not even sure why. So when you are with someone who is not fully engaged you pick up on it. No matter how “ok” the person across from you says they are or seems to be, our lizard brains are busy interpreting our situations trying to decide what's safe and what might be harmful.

Let’s look at a real-life situation. Ok, so now here’s you sitting across from me, we’re having a conversation but you keep checking your phone. The more engaged you are with your phone as a distraction the more my subconscious picks up on it. On the surface, everything looks cool but my lizard brain is sending me signals and the signal it’s sending is, whatever you keep checking on, are engaged with or is interrupting our conversation is more important to you at the moment than me. If that pattern repeats itself every time I’m with you my lizard brain becomes triggered and files that information away. It says “Hey, maybe this relationship isn’t as rock-solid as you think it is and that could be bad if a lion shows up."  Of course, a lion is not going to show up but your lizard brain doesn’t know that, all it knows is I just came in second place and for the lizard brain second place is a dangerous place to be.


The experiment

I can see you’re skeptical and that’s good, so let me propose a small experiment. For the next week pick one person, any person you want to improve your relationship with (for this experiment it works best with someone you care about). For one week, when you are with that person, give them your full, undivided attention. It costs nothing and there is zero risk so this should be easy. If at any time you are with that person and your phone chirps, buzzes rings or makes a noise DO NOT check it, DO NOT take a quick glance instead, without breaking eye contact, just pick it up, silence it and put it away. This one small seemingly insignificant gesture will do more to repair or build your relationship then you will ever know. Subconsciously that small action says to the other person, "You are the most important thing to me in the world at this moment. I am open and receptive to being with you. I care about what you are saying and I will not be distracted by whatever else is around us. You are my focus and I care deeply about this relationship."

When the lizard brain picks up on these kinds of signals it sends a positive feelings, “This person really cares about me, I like being with this person because they are a great listener.” Do you have a friend who is a great listener? How do you feel when yyou think about that person or are with that person? You probably just got the warm fuzzies thinking about it, right? Now shift gears. Think about someone who is constantly distracted by their phone. How do you feel when you’re with that person? Probably not so warm, not so fuzzy. Which one would you rather spend time with? Which one are you?