Competitive Conversation: Fighting the Phone

What is it with people and their phones?

Picture the scene:

You’re at a big work-related dinner in a big hotel dining room, where the terrible acoustics mean that the entire space is buzzing and bursting with noisy chatter. The servers haven’t come around yet to pour the white wine that will go with your appetizer.

You’re seated at the head of a table with a grown-up man on your left and a grown-up woman on your right, neither of whom you know.

Small talk is clearly needed. This is a networking event, after all. So you start asking questions of your new neighbor on the left – where are you from, what do you do, etc. etc.

You chat awhile, then as the conversation hits a lull, you naturally turn to your new neighbor on the right, repeating the above questions.

Things are not looking up

While conversing with said female neighbor (FN), you glance over at male neighbor (MN), and can’t help but notice that he is looking intently down at his…um…lap.

You return to your small talk with FN, feel the lull, turn to MN to pick up where you left off. Luckily, he’s off his lap/phone and ready for more conversation. So you chat on for awhile, feel the lull, and turn to FN, who…

Is looking intently down at her…um…lap.

And so it goes, interrupted only by the inevitable – food being brought to the table and eaten – more or less throughout the entire dinner.

New style of networking?

You develop a sort of rhythm to the whole thing: speak – listen – glance – speak – listen- glance. Is FN/MN available now (signaled by looking up) or not (signaled by looking down)?

You also form some thoughts during the entire laughable scene. Should you be irritated (is it lack of manners)? Should you be sympathetic (is it their social insecurity)? Should you be accepting (is it where we’re at now? is it the future)?

Dinner is over, and you, FN and MN all say how nice it was to get to know one another, good night.

Have you ever had to compete with a phone in the conversation game?

What is it with people and their phones?


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