Sorry, everyone. This is not relationship advice on how to flirt with that one guy you always see at the coffee shop before you leave.

Well, maybe it could be. It depends on how you use the information I’m about to tell you.

Six billion people have access to phones, and phones help us communicate. The entire world is right at our fingertips! But where is the line drawn? When does using our devices become too much?

In many conversations I’ve encountered, I have constantly seen people looking down to use their phones. Whether it’s another Snap they need to take, or a text they need to answer, it just doesn’t stop. And I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty annoying. What is so important that you don’t even have the common decency to pay attention?

Face-to-face conversations are important to human interaction.

The thing about online communication is it provides only a fraction of verbal communication and almost no non-verbal communication. When trying to relate to a person or trying to get to know someone better, both verbal and non-verbal communication is key. Both indicate different thoughts and feelings to the listener, but it’s something we lose when using online communication.

This isn’t the fault of our phones though.  It’s due to the human desire to not want to be alone or awkward. Nobody wants to be bored during a conversation, so we turn to our phones as a safe haven.

But the truth is, we need that moment of blunderingly fidgeting around to build better human relations with the people around us.

Sherry Tuckle wrote a book called Reclaiming Conversation. In this book, Tuckle came up with a way to alleviate this miscommunication and phone addiction: the seven-minute rule.

The seven-minute rule states that if you ever find yourself in a lull during a face-to-face conversation, give it seven minutes before you take your phone out.

The moment of boredom you so humanly dislike actually allows your brain to run through thoughts and come up with new ideas to talk about. You’re in a situation in which you have to come up with something to say, and you can use that to further the conversation with the people you’re talking to.

So the next time you ever feel awkward in a conversation, just wait around for a little while until you make the decision to take your phone out. Maybe you’ll gain a new friend. Or even that guy at the coffee shop.



Suttie, J. (2015, Dec. 7). How smartphones are killing conversation. The Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved from