At the beginning of the year 2000 there was no: -
YouTube, Vlogging, Wikipedia, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, Spotify, Siri, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, Broadband, Wi-Fi, 4G, Sat Nav, AIRBNB, Uber, Zoom and Teams.
The list goes on and on.
All of the above are fantastic and magical, helping to make our lives richer and definitely easier. I still shudder at the memories of panic I felt missing meetings because I got stuck in traffic or couldn’t find my way, trying to read a map and drive at the same time, Waze has changed my life. Then there is Zoom and Teams, which during these very challenging times have allowed teams to carry on collaborating and communicating, training to go ahead, doctors’ consultations to happen and families to share opening Christmas presents – seriously what would we have done without it?
But we need to be careful because some technology and social media is addictive, when you get a like on your latest photos on Facebook or Instagram, your brain creates dopamine, this is the hormone that controls pleasure and reward and the brain always craves more. A friend of mine told me she became acutely aware of this addiction one night when her 6-month-old baby daughter woke her up. She found herself sitting in the rocking chair phone in one hand baby in the other, checking in to see who had liked the cute photos and videos she had put up earlier. She suddenly realised the opportunity to be conscious, present and in the moment with her little one was being sabotaged by social media.
We've only got only ourselves to blame.
Despite all of this, we just can’t blame technology for the eroding of our human skills, we only have ourselves to blame; the hard facts are company heads text or do email during video meetings. Employees shop online during office hours or in the middle of virtual presentations. Students go on Facebook amid class hours. Parents text, talk on their mobile devices or do email at mealtimes. And children complain about not having their parents’ full attention. But at the same time, too, these same children deny each other their full attention. All skills technical, practical or soft will be affected by not using them, this is why you need to constantly keep exercising your human skills, so they improve. We need to be active practicing our social skills if we want it to be natural and easy. Think of what happens when you go out for your walk for the day or get a takeaway coffee or visit the supermarket. Do you still engage and connect? It’s so much harder behind a mask as well, if we are not careful, we will find it even more difficult to connect with others when we get back to normal. As humans we need to find a way to navigate the advantages of technology and the effect it can have on us if we rely on it too much as the way to connect and communicate.
Three things you can do tomorrow! 1. Engage with people when its easy, try talking to coffee baristas, check out staff at your favourite supermarket, or when you are paying for something. I spoke to a lovely lady in Morrison’s in Milton Keynes recently and she said she really misses people engaging and talking to her because they are on their phones all the time. 2. Ask a colleague to a video (Zoom) lunch or coffee, this is such a great opportunity to find out more about the people you work with and connect to on a different level. Ask them what they are passionate about and who inspires them, be generous and listen to their story. 3. Have your video on in as many meetings as possible don’t hide, make an effort to stay present and engage, remember how hard it is to host a video meeting and be generous with your interaction.
I am very excited to announce my book is finally coming out this spring It is called Stand Out (5 skills to advance your career) it has lots of exercises and top tips on how to develop and polish your human skills which will set you apart in a job market which is becoming increasingly competitive. There is even a human robot quiz to see how you measure up!
Look out for future blogs and I’ll let you know when it’s available for pre -order!