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Are You a Human Robot?

Are we human or are we dancer?

“Are we human or are we dancer?” is a song by the killers released over 10 years ago with a controversial lyric, which apparently upset a lot of people at the time, why? Because of the grammar. However, the title is based on a quote by an American Journalist, Hunter S Thompson. He said “America is raising a generation of dancers afraid to take one step out of line”, which is a really interesting idea. I believe we’re all in danger of becoming like this because we are forgetting how to connect with each other. Have you noticed that when you go to an airport now a lot of them are automated, with very few humans present? If like me, you’re not an expert at printing baggage labels and attaching them to your case, you’re bound to need help! First, you need to find a person and when you do, are they smiling at you, giving you eye contact, and being supportive and empathetic? Probably not, if its anything like my experience and I travel a lot, they will hardly acknowledge you, robotically dealing with your issue and moving on, it’s almost as if they’re sleepwalking, going through the motions and you end up with a cold, detached human, and no connection. Or you walk into a retail outlet to be greeted in a singsong almost automated way, dishing out the same old greeting they use on everyone and we all know it’s because they’ve been told what to say and how to say it. Sadly, I’d prefer a real robot any day, than either of these, wouldn’t you?

Don't leave your humanness at the door.

Over the years we have been led to believe that at work, we must diminish our humanity, behaving (and appearing) like robots prized for their automation and conformity. When we get to the office or are on Zoom, we leave our real and authentic selves at the door, ramp up our “professional” mindset and keep our human traits gagged until we finish for the evening. The belief that we need to be as efficient as an LED bulb and as knowledgeable as Wikipedia, as productive as an assembly line and as human as a doorknob, might have worked in the industrial age, but today when we a relying more than ever on digital communication, we can’t afford to forget the one ingredient that’s essential for business success— humanness! So could we be on our way to becoming human robots? You are a human-robot when you’re not present, or going through the motions, putting efficiency before connection or you are flicking from one social media app to the next and then back to the first one again to see if anyone else as commented on your video in the last 60 seconds! It's also when you are not listening and your in your head thinking about what you are going to say or avoiding eye contact. Its not only customer service people who act this way, a lovely lady at Morrison’s supermarket told me how soul-destroying it was for her when so many customers are on their phones when checking their shopping through and don’t even look at her.

What next? This time of year is a great time to connect, people are much more open to it and willing to respond. So wherever possible in these difficult times try talking to Morrison’s lady, stop and say hello when out walking the dog, even if it has to be from a distance, have a family meal with no phones allowed, smile at strangers, and say good morning. Whatever works for you.

Have a very merry and human Christmas and best wishes for a wonderful new year!


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