Being Present by Disconnecting to Reconnect with Thrive MD, Alex Christou

It’s not easy to stay present and focused in a world that’s always plugged in. For many, our urge to remain connected around the clock is getting in the way of our well-being, our productivity and our relationships.

As Managing Director for Thrive Global in Australia & New Zealand, our focus is firmly on reducing the stress and burnout epidemic that’s taken a grip and hold globally. I see it every day in workplaces throughout our nation – we collectively are getting it all so wrong and this is absolutely the case when it comes to our electronic devices. How often do we all see it, people more focused on their phones than the person sitting opposite them during a conversation?
With devices in our hands, we are far less present, yes even with our phones facing down on the table. We’re also less productive at work as we‘re distracted by each and every notification that pops up. There’s also research to suggest that the mere presence of a smartphone can lessen the quality of an in-person conversation, lowering the amount of empathy that is exchanged between friends.

In extreme cases we see people sleeping with their phones under their pillows! I pity their partners who have to contend with buzzing, lights and alerts through the night – often because someone wants to be the first to respond to a message from the boss in the middle of the night or missing a social media post for FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) –  and it’s more pervasive than many would perhaps think and it plays out every night in many homes. Spare a thought for the children we as adults are role modelling our behaviours too. If our face is buried into our devices at home, around the dining table, in the park and in bed, guess what our children will be doing?

So I’m calling out every single person in my circle from this point on and I encourage you to do the same – and it’s not going to make us popular. If you choose to sit with me for a bite to eat, a drink, catch up or a meeting, I don’t want your phone visible to either of us. The moment your phone comes out you’ve signalled to me that I’m not as important as your device and the research tells us that you will be far less present and engaged in our conversation, as will I!

Our Founder and CEO at Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington serves as a constant reminder for me as to what we risk when we don’t prioritise our well-being, including our failure to disconnect from our devices. Arianna experienced a burnout that led to her physically collapsing to the floor, breaking her cheekbone on the corner of her desk and waking up in a pool of blood. Our well-being and our relationships are now at stake if we cannot disconnect from our devices.

So if you want to have a real, fuller and enriching face-to-face conversation with a family member, a friend, a colleague or with me, please place your phone on silent or turn it off and put it in your pocket. Let’s acknowledge that our relationship with our devices needs to dramatically improve. Oh, and when it’s time to go to bed, cuddle up to a book, or better still, your partner and leave the phone outside the bedroom to charge. If your phone doubles as your alarm clock invest in your well being and buy an alarm clock.

– Alex Christou

Managing Director
Thrive Global


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