4 simple tips to ensure social media is adding to our relationships and not replacing them

Social media is a strange paradox. On one level it connects employees globally around the world, on the other hand it is making professionals disconnected at an emotional level.

Dr Dan Siegel, leading psychiatrist at UCLA, says ‘From a brain point of view, the difference between social media, email and one on one interactions are very interesting. The human brain responds to 7 signals when communicating: eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gestures, timing and intensity. These are the key things that social media and email are lacking.

The science?

When people communicate face to face with other human beings, they activate the right hemisphere of the brain. The right side works closely with the body to create and understand emotions.

When people communicate through social media, text and emails, this activates the left side of the brain.

The left hemisphere of the brain is much more into logistics and more distant from the body in terms of emotional responses and body awareness.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with social media, however if it is replacing human interactions all the time, then we are going to have a big problem where we are going to experience the world from a more surface level and not connect any deeper.” – Dr Dan Siegel

Organisations are now turning to mindfulness to encourage being in the moment, meaningful conversations, and connecting employees across different business units.

Here are a few strategies to keep the digital life in check.

1.   Disable notifications.

This one is crucial for productivity as notifications are a constant source of distraction. People check into social media accounts more than they should, so do they really need another trigger when someone likes a photo or makes a comment?

2.    Leave your phone out of the board room. 

Next time scheduling a meeting with your staff, leave your phone out of the room. This may sound difficult or challenging at first. The reality is once they arrive at the meeting, they will be truly engaged and the meeting will be more productive and efficient. At a minimum don’t allow phones on the table.

3.    Set some boundaries.

If you are establishing a culture of wellbeing and productive employees, can you not send emails to your employees after work hours or on the weekend? Even though you may say ‘they don’t need to check it’ Most people still do, and you can easily send them into a Beta Brain wave state (stress) when they are meant to be recharging, so they can turn up Monday refreshed. It also sets the precedence as the leader that this is acceptable behavior. If you are worried you will forget it, use the scheduled email function more often, so it sends it to them in the morning.

4. Practice mindfulness and meditation

We can easily spend so much time in our head or on digital that we almost forget we even have a body. Mindfulness will teach people to become fully integrated with your body. It teaches people to become less reactive to the stories we tell ourselves and respond to life in a more calm, focused and rational way.

Don’t know where to begin?

Chelsea is the Director of EQ Consulting co and currently works with a diverse client group from Cook Medical, Allergan, AON, QBE, GrainCorp, Mercedes-Benz, Dexus Property, RMB Lawyers to name a few. Chelsea can tailor a program to suit your organisational needs, so your people can be less distracted and more productive.