How many times have you walked into a meeting and noticed everyone heads down and fingers flying? This scenario is all-too-familiar in our workplaces, not to mention our homes. And we’ve accepted it as normal. In fact, I’ve heard arguments that our head-bowed, thumb-dancing behavior is the natural extension of our advanced society… that we have to grow up and adapt… and that asking for different behavior is a step backwards at best.
To that, I politely say, “Bull.”
Yes – our BlackBerrys, iPhones, and other technology tools have changed our lives for the better, arming us with more flexibility, information, and power than ever before.
And – with great power comes great responsibility, as Spiderman says. Even though our use of these tools has exploded with unprecedented speed, no one has stopped to teach us how to integrate them into the work and life we want to have. When there are no rules, the technology rules us.
Why Should We Care?
Letting technology rule might be fine – if everything else was working well. But it isn’t. And we’re missing something important in our professional and personal lives.
We’re missing connection.
“Connection?” you laugh at me, amazed. “Why, right now I’m connected to my 400 Twitter followers, 875 Facebook friends, and my email contact list in the thousands! I’m more connected than ever before!”
All true. You are connected. But are you connect-ing? My clients, friends, and people in my speaking audiences tell me they’re not. In fact, they’re feeling:AÃ¯Â¿Â½
Less connected to their colleagues, even those just a floor away,
More distant from their friends and family, and
Even farther away from their own thoughts and voices because they’re constantly responding to the adrenaline buzz of their device(s).
Connection is a basic human need- a longing, even. We want to connect. So you’d think we’d do whatever it takes to connect, right? But we’re not doing it. In fact, we’re unintentionally replacing connecting with clicking.
And it’s not working.
The sad part is that I hear people say “that’s the way it has to be” to be successful in a wired world. Again, I challenge, bull.
It’s Time to Make New Rules
Our wonderful technology tools tumbled into our lives with great speed. When we quickly adjusted to integrate their possibilities, we unintentionally created informal, habit-based rules that we never thought through, challenged or rejected. Until now.
Now, we have the opportunity to design new rules and techniques that work to support our success instead of drain it. With new rules, we can take control of these amazing, empowering tools – and take control of our work lives again.
If you’re ready for new rules, here are four to try. If you want to connect more, try these out and discover how you can click less!
Rule #1: Decide Whether You’re Using Your Technology – or Whether It’s Using You.
Start by asking yourself:
Am I “pulled” into work emails and calls during times I’m trying to be present for my friends or family?
Do my friends or loved ones complain that I pay more attention to the technology than to them?
Do I feel anxious or jumpy when my technology buzzes or beeps?
Do I text or manually dial while I’m driving a car?
If you’ve said “yes” to any of these, your technology is using you. Remember, you’re the one with the brains here – and you’re too smart to get used.
Rule #2: Experiment with Connecting Differently.
In many of our workplaces, it feels like we’ve forgotten that we have alternatives to email, text, and tweeting. So here’s a reminder! You can still:
Call instead of click. Sure, voicemail can be misused as much as email, but a brief, upbeat, and clear message helps build a stronger personal connection.
Walk instead of click. Go to someone’s location, even if it’s a few minutes out of the way. If you’re longing for connection, never pass up an opportunity to be face-to-face – it builds relationships, prevents multi-tasking, generates better ideas, and is just more fun!
Write instead of click. Physical, hand-written notes are not passe. They’re simple to do and carry powerful emotion with them, even when they’re just saying a simple “thank you.” Notes get saved – and remembered.
Rule # 3: Create Your Click-Free Zones
Your local 7-Eleven can be open all the time, with a rotating staff in and out. But you, as an individual, can’t be “open for business” 24/7- especially if you want to work at your peak energy and be successful.
When your devices are on and you’re “open” to receiving and responding to information, you’re open for business. But you can choose a time or situation to be “closed,” too. I call these your “click-free zones.” For example: