Staying Connected is Not Just About Technology

We know we use technology as part of our everyday life- but most of us would be amazed how much. Here is just a quick summary.

73% of adults utilize social media sites with 1.9 billion using Facebook in 2013.
42% using multiple social media platforms.
63% check their Facebook pages at least once a day.
Americans age 18-29 send an average of 88 texts per day.

Communicating through technology certainly has its advantages in this fast paced world.  In a Time Magazine mobility poll, 32% of respondents said that they would rather communicate by text as opposed to phone – even with the people they know well. This is in an effort to avoid small talk and “chit chat”.  They are not in the moment interested in how the person is doing nor what they are up to, but just the facts and the information they need.  In other words…Get to the Point!

Communication through technology – via twitter, Facebook, and text has allowed people to be “conversation avoidant.”  And in that, there are so many communications skills going into a state of atrophy.  As an executive coach working with busy executives, I spend a great deal of time on communication skills.  The skills of active listening (for what is said and not said), being curious and connecting with another person in a way that they too are actively engaged with you vs. their hand-held device.  With the lack of visual and vocal ques conversations involving an apology, love, or empathy become disconnected.

Paar im Restaurant schaut auf HandysHow many of you take you phone out at the dinner table or a restaurant…or leave it out on thetable throughout the entire meal.  This has become so common that many popular restaurants are now offering incentives to diners if they do not take out their cell phones during their dinner… How does 5-10% off your bill sound?  And their point is – BE with the people you are enjoying a meal with – 100%.

In a NY Times article (April 2012: by Sherre Turkle) a powerful statement was made:  “We have sacrificed conversation for mere connection, this new way of being is often referred to as being ‘alone together’.  FACE-TO-FACE conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits. As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions; we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters.”

To communicate effectively, we must make conscious choices at what is really the best way  – rather than being swept into the technology cycle.  Rapid and responsive communication is essential when it supports “people”:

– For business associates to be in two places at once with Skype
– Families living far apart can also stay connected and have “face-to-face” conversations
– International business communications have been made easier with new emerging technologies and apps.
– Facebook helps people “stay in touch” with others that they may not have, had these technologies not been available to them.group_happy

When I am in China, I am very grateful for technology so that I can talk to my husband in the morning and at night.  However – the best would be to be able to have a conversation with him in person.

So use your means of communication in the way that best serves real connection and understanding.

Warmest wishes, Barbara