Have we forgotten how to connect with each other without being tethered to electronic gadgets? Admittedly, I’m a texter and an emailer, but not when I’m sitting in front of someone, ostensibly talking with them.
This cartoon says it all. We are addicted, hooked and totally under the spell of tweeting and texting, to the detriment of two of the very bedrocks of working together – building relationships and building trust. How has it come to this?
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I spent three days with “at risk” rising ninth graders teaching a Junior Achievement class in “Success Skills.” These kids have phones, and use them. In class.
My 14 year old grandson visits for a week, and doesn’t put his phone down from the time we pick him up at the airport.
In leadership development classes, we make participants do “the chicken dance” if their blackberry or iPhone is used in class. Really?
I drive down the interstate, watch the tractor trailer ahead of me swerve in and out of the lane…I pass him, look up, and he is texting. (If you ever thought about texting while driving, watch this YouTube video from AT&T, below.)
But my purpose here is not to scare folks into not texting while driving (although that would be a noble purpose). My purpose is to remind all of us that there is a time for communicating in person, and there are interpersonal communications skills that we are in danger of losing. Here’s what I think we lose when we allow technology-based communication to monopolize our communication.
We lose the ability to look someone in the eye and see the non-verbal communication. Research says 80% of communication is non-verbal.
We lose the ability to see the truth in another person’s eyes.
We lose the opportunity to converse on a real time basis, which spurs new thinking and deeper communication.
We lose the ability to let people know that we care.
When we access technology while sitting with someone, we tell them we aren’t engaged or worse, that we don’t care.
In leadership development, we speak of building trust as a key competency. I challenge anyone in a leadership position to put down their electronic equipment when in meeting, with many or with one, and make those in the meeting the most important thing at that moment in time. Let’s see how that builds trust.