Quick experiment: take a look at your phone right now. Is it flipped over so that you and others can’t see the screen? Or is it face-up so that you can immediately see when it lights up with an alert? This seemingly random preference could actually say a lot about your personality.   

I decided to stroll around the office to see what the Boston Interactive team thought about the smartphone debate – and interestingly everyone had an immediate preference. Whether it was phone up or down, the teammates I asked about phone placement were all passionate about their phone side of choice.

But what do these preferences mean? We started brainstorming ideas about whether one placement was better than the other.

Jeremy was quick to point out that he’s a father, so the safety factor of having his phone up. Ceri, on the other hand, countered that leaving his phone face down kept him from being distracted from the tasks at hand.

After a quick pool of people who were working at their desks, one-third of the team had their phones flipped to face down, while the rest had it face up and ready to receive notifications as they filtered in.

Phone up or down

Phone flipped down:

Having your phone flipped down could suggest that you want to put all your focus and attention into the things currently taking place. For example, if you’re having a conversation with someone, the polite thing to do would be to flip your phone down so as not to lose concentration in the midst of your discussion to look at your notifications.

Another example of this would be if you had a deadline at work, an effective way to finish your tasks faster would be to flip your phone down so you can give your complete attention to your without distraction Erin, one of the phone-flipped down advocates, says “I keep my phone face down (and on silent) because I like to stay present in whatever I’m doing. Whether I’m at work or out with friends, I don’t want a text or phone call to pull me out of the moment and distract me. I’d rather flip my phone over and look at it when I find time for it.”

Another angle to consider when determining the characteristics of a phone-flipped down person is their attention to privacy. When someone has their phone flipped over, it could mean they don’t like the possibility of having others read their personal conversations. These individuals might be more reserved or withdrawn.

Phone face up:

To contrast the phone face down, phone facing up has varying perspectives - both positive and negative - that the team had opinions on. On the work front, phone up might imply that the individual is more susceptible to getting distracted. Texting, Instagram, news notifications, and other fun features are constantly enticing and readily to distract and delight us.  

Even though it can be distracting, I always have my phone up. As a business owner, I’m constantly networking and scoping out new business deals, so a missed call could be a missed opportunity. Rory agreed my phone placement and added that having a phone flipped up is a symbol of trust. “If I have my phone facing up when I’m sitting next to someone, it means I am comfortable that person and I don’t mind if they glance at my conversations.”

This second-nature preference might just be a coincidence, but it could also speak volumes about your preferences for communication, work, and motivation levels. Think about it – are you an easily distracted person who would rather the instant gratification of seeing a text message? Or would you prefer not lose focus on the tasks at hand by the glow of your phone?

What are your thoughts on the phone flip methodology? Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter to share your thoughts.