Watching a piece on the news this morning, was a piece that claimed social media was in fact anti social. This is true, many of us would prefer to look at our mobiles than strike up a conversation.
In years gone past we would have used phrases about the weather as an icebreaker to talk to strangers. Simple phrases like “good weather for ducks” or “it’s wet again” or “wow its hot.. do you think it will last?”. These are simple ice breakers that people have used for years, they are simple engagement techniques which are neutral and risk free. These techniques can open the door to discussions, and put no risk on either party. Have we lost the ability to engage in small talk.
A new generation of people unable to communicate
How often have you walked passed a mother and young child or baby in a buggy and the mum is deep in conversation on the phone, or texting? how will the child learn language or the art of conversation – the generations of business people in the future will have a significant development challenge when these people enter the working population in 10-15 years time!
The missing leadership behaviour – the impact of email
Unfortunately it is not just social media that has this effect. Howe many of us have managers that are so absorbed by email, that they arrive in work in the morning, turn on their PC, and fail to say a simple “good morning”. Why is this?
Is business really so “busy” that basic management and leadership skills are being undermined? I know people that sit just a few metres from their manager and they can go for days without the manager starting a conversation of any kind. Of course this behaviour probably happened in the pre emails days, but of course now this behaviour is multiplied.
Many organisations strive to increase engagement with their people, and yet some of the basic human interactions are still missing. I am sure firms could get better results on employee engagement surveys not by complex and expensive interventions, but simply training managers and leaders the art of saying “good weather for ducks”!
A challenge to develop your interpersonal skills
When was the last time that you spoke to someone at the station, getting on a bus or even whilst queuing at the supermarket? Practice your skills with strangers… for it seems people we know are harder to speak to!
What do you think? Is social and email killing our ability to communicate face to face?