Oversharing things on social media isn't the only sin technology users have to worry about. There's another common tech etiquette downfall: never disconnecting.
Does the thought of being stuck with a dead phone battery make your heart race? Does forgetting your phone send you into a panic? When your phone buzzes, do you have a compulsion to respond immediately at any cost? Or maybe you’ve experienced “phantom vibration syndrome,” a term coined for those who experience that common false alarm phone vibration. If all this sounds familiar, “nomophobia” (abbreviated for no-mobile-phone-phobia) may describe you.
Nomophobia is the rush of anxiety and fear some people get when they realize they’re disconnected. A survey by SecurEnvoy has estimated that up to 67 percent of the population could have nomophobia.
Phone separation anxiety is common, and in an industry like real estate where you rely on your phone to stay connected to your business, you may feel the separation even more. Losing touch could mean losing business. But losing one’s sense of life balance due to constant connectivity can be draining on a salesperson, according to researchers at Baylor University’s Keller Center in the report “How Technology is Changing the Sales Environment.”
Technology can create an idea of there’s “no place to hide” creating by the expectation of constant connectivity. “We recommend that agents consider how they might use technology to create good connectivity as well as appropriate boundaries,” the authors note in the report.
Here are five tips to avoid technology overuse:
Monitor your use. Is your phone use starting to scatter your attention and becoming a distraction from your tasks and relationships? Track the number of hours you spend each week on it, such as your social media use and your responses to e-mails and text messages, etc. There’s an app for that too. Menthal Balance is an app available for Android users to track the time they spend on their smartphone, including phone time and the apps you use the most frequently. You’ll get a full report of your usage and can see if a digital diet may be needed.
Turn off your phone around others. “Make people in front of you always the priority,” says Gottsman. “If you interrupt a face-to-face conversation to respond to a text or take a call, you are communicating to the person you are speaking with that they are less important.” Also, don’t just flip your phone to vibration mode. The constant buzzing can distract you and others around you as well. If an incoming call is absolutely urgent, excuse yourself and go to a private space to take the call, Gottsman says. But, she adds, it’s usually better to let a call go to voicemail than to pick up the call just to offer an excuse like “I can’t talk right now.”
Harness technology to automate but with a human-touch. If you’re scared about missing a call, you can use technology to show you’re responsive until you actually have time to respond. For example, programs like Better Voicemail automatically change your customized voicemail greetings based on who is calling by using their caller ID information, area code, or a call group you’ve designated (such as first-time callers). You can also use it to send an automatic text follow-up with your website URL to first-time callers or any other information you’d like them to have.
Designate specific “on” times. Have specific times of the day when you will answer e-mail, text, and phone messages, and be sure to convey those times to your clients. “By engaging with e-mail and text messages within a bounded time period, the agent exercises more control and reduces the anxiety that might be felt due to overconnectivity,” according to the Baylor University Keller Center report.
Watch your nonverbal message. By always being glued to a device, what message are you sending to others? For example, if you’re buried in your phone at networking events, you may send a message that you’re unapproachable. By glancing at your phone in conversations with others, you may make others around you feel second-rate, Gottsman says. By picking up the phone in a crowded restaurant or noisy place to try to show you’re always available, you may make the other person feel annoyed at the background noise or make them feel frustrated that they don’t have your full attention.