Observe the environment of your next social situation. The DMV, a restaurant, a long line, a soccer game, a high school bus stop. Virtually any of these scenes will include people with their head down, looking at their phone.
Rather than looking around, meeting someone new, saying a simple hello, we revert to the comforts of our social media accounts, seeking the small thrill we get from a new “like” or text message notification. Our hands are no longer free to greet others. Our eyes are no longer visible to show that we are paying attention or engaged in our current situation.
Our generation is being conditioned to deal with uncomfortable situations by sending a quick text message, rather than deal directly with the person we need to confront. We are accustomed to spewing our opinions online without the consequences of seeing the hurt in someone’s eyes, caused by our offensive remarks.
Today’s technology and conveniences are both a blessing and curse. They can serve as powerful tools of both mass communication and mass destruction. They allow us to share our lives with more people but can also foster shallow and meaningless relationships with so-called “friends.”
The ease and speed of text messaging has dumbed down our everyday communication. Rather than creating complete ideas and sentences, we are becoming accustomed to sentence fragments, acronyms, emojis and abbreviations.
Here are some ways that you can help to shift these natural tendencies of the current generation, especially in the workplace.
1.) Professional email and letters
Slow down. When writing an email, write in complete sentences. Begin with a polite greeting and end with a kind and professional signature. Check grammar and spelling. Make sure that you are communicating clearly and professionally without personal opinions or sarcastic comments. Avoid, acronyms and smily faces.
2.) Sensitive issues
Reserve sensitive issues for a phone call or a face to face meeting. Text of any kind can be misunderstood if you’re not clear and careful with your words. Many relationships are strained or destroyed because of a confusing or misunderstood text message or email. Have the courage and integrity to confront uncomfortable issues head-on. Your friends and co-workers will respect your honesty and forthrightness. You will also have the opportunity to address questions or concerns in the moment, rather than allowing possible doubt and confusion to linger.
3.) Get out of your comfort zone
Networking meetings, business luncheons or other professional gatherings can make some people very uncomfortable. It’s easy to isolate yourself and ease the awkwardness by checking email or your social media accounts. Make a conscious effort to put the phone away, shake some hands and begin building relationships.
4.) Teach the younger generation
Find a co-worker or colleague who may be prone to defaulting to their phone in social situations. Shake their hand when you see them and engage in meaningful conversation. Take them to lunch and ask them questions about their lives. Don’t segregate yourself from the younger generation – be present and available.
Make an intentional decision today to break free from easy and convenient methods of social interaction via social media, texting, etc. Cultivate real human interaction by being a better listener, looking people in the eye and communicating fully with kindness and professionalism.
Challenge your colleagues, employees, students, family and friends to do the same.
Thanks for reading!
Mindy is a headshot and portrait photographer in Mount Dora, FL. She has years of experience in helping businessmen and women make a professional first impression.
Mindy has a passion for integrity in the workplace – challenging leaders to raise the standard of professionalism, etiquette, respect and class.
Mindy Kerr Photography – Professional. Creative. Simple.