Did you get phubbed by your boss?

Story highlights

  • James Roberts: Is it any wonder that "phubbing," or "phone snubbing," became talk of the town?
  • Our love affair with the smartphone is wreaking havoc on personal and workplace relationships

James A. Roberts is professor of marketing at Baylor University and author of "Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?" The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Is it any wonder that "phubbing," or "phone snubbing," if you will, went viral on the Internet in recent days? So much so that even a skit on last weekend's "Saturday Night Live" mentioned it. Admit it: You've done it, your partner has done it, just about everyone around you has committed it.

Phubbing is the practice of looking at your phone in a social situation instead of giving someone your full attention. In a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, my colleague Meredith E. David and I found that when a romantic partner phubs you, conflict arises and you are left with a reduced level of satisfaction with your most intimate relationship. This, in turn, reduces your overall life satisfaction and increases the likelihood that you would report being depressed.
James A. Roberts
Good communication is the cornerstone of any kind of relationship. We are a nation of distracted and cowardly communicators. We send a clear message to others that whatever is on our screens is more important than them. We hide behind our phones, unwilling to navigate the sometimes uncomfortable waters that come with face-to-face communication. We find mates and break up with these same people via our smartphones.
    It's not just our romantic relationships that are suffering the effects of phubbing. We use a measure -- what we call the Partner Phubbing scale -- to rate "boss phubbing." This would show how one's supervisor phubbed him or her in their presence.
    We've all been through it, right? Here are a couple of examples: "My boss glances at his/her cell phone when talking to me," or, "when my boss' cell phone rings or beeps, he/she pulls it out even if we are in the middle of a conversation."
    The results of our survey of approximately 200 U.S. adults are both surprising and revelatory. Our love affair with the smartphone is securely ensconced at work and is wreaking havoc on workplace relationships and productivity.