The Stare Phenomenon

You see it in airports. You see it in elevators. You see it at Church, Doctor’s offices, and even at Sports events. What is this activity that is circumnavigating the globe? I call it the “Stare Phenomenon” – the practice of staring at your mobile device while ignoring others.

I must admit to my own guilt in this regard. Some have called it Phubbing- for phone snubbing. But today while riding up the elevator to my HireVue office on the 6th floor of our business tower, I looked around at 4 people all staring down at their cell phones and thought: “Which of these people could be key to my next big financial transaction?” Or which of these people, unknowingly, failed to connect with me and, as a result, might be missing out on a job opportunity at one of the companies with which I am connected.


Think about it… by staring intently at that meaningless tweet or text, you may be failing to make a business or personal connection that could change your life. And make no mistake about it. It is those seemingly small encounters that can turn into Very Big Deals. Some years ago, I connected with an out of work sales rep who turned me on to a Ten Million dollar opportunity. I would hate to think what would have happened had I not “looked up” on that occasion to connect with this individual.

Are you missing out on a Million dollar opportunity while staring at your cell phone while ignoring the person next to you who may be the gateway for your next career move or a key strategic partnership for your company?

The other day I landed at the John Wayne Orange County airport. I looked up and counted 14 separate individuals staring at their mobile devices and only 1 conversation going on. Now I am sure that one or two of those who were texting or emailing at the airport while ignoring those around them were engaged in perfectly important business matters. But the next time you are in an elevator, an airport sitting area, or waiting room, ask yourself: “Is what I am doing more important than connecting with those who are around me right here, right now?”

In my mind, the Stare Phenomenon is simply a bad habit. But like any habit, it can be broken. Bad habits — like CONSTANTLY staring and interacting with your mobile device– can interrupt with what should be your real life and prevent you from accomplishing your life’s core objectives. You may think that there is a massively importantly reason to check out the latest Tweet, Instagram Photo, FB message or SnapChat but in most in cases, there is not. What did you do BEFORE smart phones?

Experts say that it is far easier to replace a bad habit then it is to simply eliminate it. In this case, think about eliminating this bad habit by replacing it with Connecting with real live people. Look up, Smile, Engage (they will be shocked) and you will be on the road to making some great connections… perhaps life changing ones.

One final note, if you are constantly on your cellular device, most onlookers might think you have lots of friends and a filled-up social calendar. However, researchers at Kent University recently studied more than 500 students to look at their daily phone habits and analyzed how it affected their lives. The study found that those attached to the phone “are likely to be less happy than those who can resist a ring or a message alert.”

So eliminate the Stare Phenomenon.

Look to replace it with real world business connections. You will be glad you did.

What will you do to eliminate the Stare Phenomenon?

Posted in Posted in Networking  |  5 Comments

5 thoughts on “The Stare Phenomenon”

  1. Not only do you miss out on business opportunities, for those who are single it makes dating much more difficult. It’s almost expected that you connect first electronically, then in person. Almost…

  2. I couldn’t agree more, and who of us hasn’t been guilty of this? I certainly have and I know better. On the other hand, many people, including clients I’ve coached and advised, simply don’t have the self-confidence to look up and open their mouths! Working through that kind of reticence is formidable but, as you say, can be potentially life-changing.

  3. One of George Washington’s Principles of Civility that stuck in my head is that a person should never read in company–which I translate to mean that the people immediately around you will always be more important than the book (or in this case the mobile device) in front of you. There are certain times where it can’t be avoided with mobile devices and work requirements, but I have found true and agree with your point that people who tune out the people around them are tuning out great opportunities.

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