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When you go to a restaurant, do you ever people watch?  Of course people are eating, drinking and having a little bit of conversation. But, what else do you notice? Are they on their phones?  For work… maybe. To check social media…perhaps. To play games…sometimes.

According to The NPD Group, the average time people spent playing mobile games a day is over two hours. Where do they find the time? I’m working till midnight, but these people are playing Words with Friends?

I recently took a trip to Florida. While waiting in line at the Magic Kingdom, I would say that a majority of people were on their phone. You know what I didn’t see a lot of? Parents talking to their kids. There they were on a family vacation and they’re on Facebook or playing Candy Crush. Are we even having conversations with our kids, spouses or friends anymore?

In the workforce, are you having meetings or is everything done through email? Do you have office outings? Do you take your employees to lunch? Do you encourage brainstorming sessions?

I’m not saying that technology is bad. I am a huge, huge fan of it. I can work from home, on a beach, or on a rooftop- while drinking a glass of wine.  I can generate buzz about a story through social media and get instant coverage. And because of technology, I’ve grown my business.

But, how do we use it correctly – while still being able to effectively communicate with each other in person? Let’s tackle business first.

A lot can be done by email and texts, but stick with a weekly staff meeting. Face to face interaction is very important and not all problems can be solved by emails.

Go to Lunch
Take your employees to lunch. Every once in a while, surprise a staff member and take them out to lunch.  This will give you some one-on-one time with them, which is something that very rarely happens in companies. This lunch will go a long way for both of you.

Know Your Employees
The millennial generation thinks and works differently than you do. They aren’t going to change, so you need to adapt. If my business partner sends me an urgent email and I haven’t responded, guess who’s getting a text that says “email!” I may not read my email immediately, but I’ll read my text. If you call your employees, don’t waste your time leaving a voice mail. Nobody listens to voicemails. Text them.

Now to our personal lives. Go back to basics.

Eat together
Eat dinner as a family at the table with no phones or TV. Have a conversation. Ask your kids: what was their favorite part of the day. Realistically, it won’t happen every night, but make the effort.

No Electronics after Dinner
Put the phones away until after the kids go to bed. Spend this time chatting with them, reading to them, or go for a walk.

Lead by Example
Your children want to be like you. You are their role model. Act how you want them to act. And for crying out loud, stop playing games on your phone and pay attention to your kids.

I would love to hear your take on how technology is effecting the way we communicate. Please share your thoughts!