CONNECTED. A word providing instant relief when in need of a Wi-Fi signal. Yet, with us humans, we seem to have forgotten that connected and connections are not synonyms.
We’re losing the skillsets to connect with a human.
In times before we spoke of ourselves in tech terms, as those in need of disconnecting, unplugging, or finding a way to recharge, as if we were pieces of equipment, we referred to ourselves as human. In fact, at one time, we craved a true and genuine connection, and no one meant connected to something electronic. The craving hasn’t ceased, just the effort to fulfill it. They have become way less. Now we fight to find a signal but spend little time in signaling interest in relationships. We’re losing the skillsets to connect with a human. We get less fulfillment and find ourselves looking for more escape routes than plate covered receptacles. But one week of vacation doesn’t fix it. The void just keeps growing, but these options over time will increase your chances of plugging into people and finding a bit more fulfillment.
Check your Habits
Technology has shifted from optional to required. Literally surrounded in our cars, stores, and lives, it is getting harder and harder to escape it. In the grand timeline of human existence, the challenge is how we manage it. We’re still new at it and the habits exist with very little awareness. A check-in is warranted. If you are craving fresh air and nature, go get it. If you’re more up to speed on the news than an anchor person, give yourself a time out in the tech department. Want to feel less disconnected and isolated? Drag yourself away from your habitual viewing of screens and grab a meal in person with a fellow human.
Build the Muscles
Building the muscles of making human connections won’t happen in the one day you left your phone at home by accident.
Discipline, stamina, and awareness are states and skills, not natural attributes. They rely on practice and get better with repeated attempts at maintenance. Great biceps don’t come from one push-up, but we fall for instant gratification ads to the tune of billions of dollars for those producing the commercials. Same for technology. Building the muscles of making human connections won’t happen in the one day you left your phone at home by accident. They happen on the afternoons you put the phone on its charger and teach your kids how to throw the best pitch ever. No social media ad is vying for you to build human connections, but every post on every medium wants you to spend money in their smart hotel, on their wi-fi equipped vehicle, or on a drug to instantly numb lonely feelings. Would you prefer to build the muscles that reach for that wallet or those that connect you to another really cool human?
Find the Balance
Our world has become one in which technology is not a phase but embedded in all daily activities. The pendulum of innovation has swung wide in the tech direction, and you’ll need conscious effort to bring it toward the middle. Spend as much time calling friends as you have on Zoom meetings. Spend as much time chatting in the hall at the conference in Phoenix, as you’ve spent waiting on a graphic card replacement for your laptop. Strike a conscious and purposeful balance between the outlets you plug into and the outlets you create to disconnect from them.
It really is all about the outlet. Those created by technology are easy and dangerously tempting. We scan our feed when bored. We buy what we feel is missing and we spend endless hours of fear and frustration when electronically disconnected. The main outlet we’ve been looking for all this time is not one electrically charged, but one emotionally fulfilling. Perhaps it’s time we put forth the effort to find it.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist, keynote speaker, and executive coach. For more information on her books, training firm or coaching services, call 1-866-382-0121, or go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com.
THIS COLUMN EXPLORES TIPS AND TECHNIQUES TO IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE WITH CO-WORKERS, CUSTOMERS AND INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS.