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Phubbing is a term used to describe the act of snubbing someone in favour of the phone. It’s a blend of “phone” and “snubbing.” Phubbing behaviour can also be seen in overhead gazing or looking over someone’s head for an opportunity during a conversation.
The most common form of phubbing is when someone is talking to you, looking at their phone instead of making eye contact. Other examples of phubbing someone can do include:
• Interrupting a conversation to take a phone call
• Scrolling through social media while they’re supposed to be listening to someone
• Turning to the phone to escape an argument or disagreement, especially with a partner
Phubbing can be due to boredom and a way for someone to find quick entertainment. It could also be due to someone trying to avoid an awkward conversation or feeling socially anxious during social interactions. Other times, snubbing can happen when someone becomes addicted to their phones.
Phubbing can be addictive, especially when it becomes normal during social interactions. Some people might over-rely on phones and avoid social interactions, especially during parties, friendly get-togethers, or business conferences. If phubbing starts damaging relationships, it can be dangerously addictive.
Phubbing can lead to communication problems. When someone is phubbing you, they’re not really listening to what they’re saying. This can make you feel left out in a conversation.
Phubbing can damage relationships. Eye contact is super important in bonding and developing oxytocin, the chemical that builds trust and connection. A lack of eye contact due to phubbing can make people feel like you don’t care about them or value their time.
If you encounter someone who phubs during a conversation, follow their gaze. Notice what they look at and make a comment:
If they look at their phone, gaze over at their phone screen. “Did you want to show me something interesting?”
If they’re eyeballing the person next to you, look over at them. “Oh, do you know them?”
Every time they phub, look where they are looking.
They may realize 3 things:
Some people might be guilty of phubbing because they’re super introverted or socially anxious. In this case, you’ll want to help them by rewarding them with eye contact.
Flash them a reassuring smile whenever they look up. Smiling will act as a reinforcement and cue them that it’s good to look at you. You can even add a few small nods to the smile.
Pause first, continue later. When someone snubbed you during a conversation (especially if you’re talking), immediately employ the pause. You might even be in the middle of a sentence.
If you notice someone is phubbing you if they are upset about something or avoiding something, you can verbally say, “Is everything OK? I notice you’re looking down a lot,” or, “I notice you haven’t been looking at me.”
This is a straightforward approach, but if you think they are going through a personal issue, this might be a way for them to open up and share what’s going on.
Try saying this line when you notice someone buries themselves in their phone. You’ll give them the heads-up that you won’t make conversation with them unless they’re giving you their full attention.
This one’s super direct! Save it for those hardcore snubbers.
You can playfully say, “Say hi for me!” or another fun/humorous/playful one-liner. This will help lighten up the conversation while also pointing out that you notice their snubbing.
Other clever one-liners might include:
“Don’t worry. You can take my number down later.”
“This must be important. Is that the President on the other line?”
“Oh, you must be checking out the latest memes, right?”
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