Rachel Garcia isn't just a talented singer-songwriter, unsurpassed chef and all-round lovely person - she's also incredibly wise when it comes to sticky situations. It's embarrassing how many times I've sent her a panicked text asking for advice on whatever mess I've gotten myself into, and she always, always knows what to do. I think that's partly because she's wise and fabulous, but she's also a bit of an etiquette nerd (Emily Post is her spirit animal). Because I know I'm not the only one muddling my way through this complicated thing called modern life, and I shouldn't greedily hog all her help, I've invited her to be Crème's resident etiquette expert. If you're as confused about how to handle a tricky situation as I often am, you can ask Rachel! Let's kick things off with Steph's question about a predicament I'm sure most of us have come up against...
"I love my best friend, but every time I catch up with her she spends a good chunk of her time checking her phone and responding to texts. It makes for frustrating conversations and I find myself getting cranky every time we hang out. How can I subtly get her to stop? (I hate confrontations)."
This is a great question and nowadays, a common concern. Your friend is sending a strong signal that her phone is more important than your physical presence and that hurts. This behavior is compulsive, disrespectful and she is wrong to think she can split her attention. It is also tricky because you didn't ask 'How should I behave?' You asked 'How can I change the behavior of another person?' An excellent, reliable guideline for texting is: You can take out your phone and text anytime you would pull out a novel and read it. I'm going to provide 4 options for you, so you can choose your own adventure for what best suits this relationship and your specific communication style.
Option 1: Direct. Next time she asks you to hang out, you can answer back, "I would love to get lunch this week, but you have seemed a little distracted lately when we meet up. Could we have an electronics-free lunch? I miss connecting with you.” (At a shared meal you can even stack your phones on the side of the table faces down, in a phone ‘tree’).
Option 2: Indirect. The first time she looks at her phone during a hang out, you could say, "I can give you a minute if you need to communicate with someone before we start catching up." This is semi-subtle and she should catch the hint.
Option 3: Fire with fire. Send her a text from across the table with a photo of her texting with the caption "Hello. Want to get lunch sometime?"
Option 4: Acceptance. She isn't going to change her hard-wired habits easily. Know that when you see her this is how she will behave, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with you. Keep this friend, but manage your expectations of her engagement and mentally change her friend status from best to acquaintance.
Best of luck!
Do you have a question for Rachel? Email her: email@example.com