Technology is fabulous. I can’t imagine not having it. Can you imagine not being able to use email, scanning, wireless phones, mobile phones, wrist gadgets that are phones, email portals, can measure your heart and pulse and who knows what else?
Yet for many of us, electronics may have created an invisible noose to any and all. Today’s phones have a variety of ring tones—you can select different ones for different people, telling you who is calling before you answer the phone (or choose not to answer it). Some systems even announce the name of the caller; again, allowing you to decide whether you want to answer or not.
Almost anything electronic has made us accessible within and outside of the workplace in nanoseconds. And that may not be such good news.
Picture this: You are in a meeting and notice that others keep looking at their devices throughout the meeting. You are intrigued with a low-level buzzing that goes on and off. And, you wonder, can someone really be participative and productive within a meeting if he is “checking out” frequently to view his email and messages?
Or, you are in a restaurant and notice that an adjacent table is fully occupied. Each person is on a cell phone talking to someone other than a tablemate. You wonder why they go out together if they don’t seem to want to talk with each other, but to someone remotely.
Most communication pros say that the technology usage from cell phones, instant messaging, etc., adds to the stress factor. The constant ringing, buzzing and vibrating beckons. Better not ignore it, it could be a crisis. You end up being a slave to your technology devices.
And that’s the rub—rarely are these communications generated because of a crisis. It’s just so easy to contact someone who is connected. These convenience tools end up gobbling up more of your time than you realize.
So, how do you control today’s technology gadgets so that they don’t control you? Start with:
• Realize that every time your computer announces a new email, something buzzes and pings, or your phone vibrates, it’s probably not a crisis. It could be spam or a wrong number. You may be at your desk and able to respond within minutes … but, should you? Enabling your technology tools to interrupt you at will, may not be such a smart thing.
• Make voice mail your friend, not something that you hide behind. Or a device that sets up a trail that the caller has to message you, for what seems like perpetuity Instead, why not get in the habit of changing your message daily—letting the caller know a time that you’ll be checking your messages and returning calls.
• When you attend a meeting, attend and participate in it–100%. Don’t take your mobile in—it isn’t invited. Ditto for your tablet–or anything that you get “instant” communications from. You can return calls and check for messages when the meeting is done.
• Don’t create unrealistic expectations for others in the way you respond to email. Immediately responding can do a couple of things.
It may unintentionally make your colleagues look bad because they don’t respond as quickly as you do. Or, it may say that you don’t have enough work to do. Either way, it’s not a good thing.
Never underestimate the power and value of a non-technical type of
conversation. Sure, communicating remotely may be necessary at times. But, the importance that sitting down with an old-fashioned one-on-one chat, or with the entire team, can’t be overlooked.
If it comes to trying to resolve a problem over email versus live conversation, the live conversation will create better results. ALL THE TIME. Communication involves hearing and seeing—
Try it the old-fashioned way—don’t let your fingers do all your communication. Hearing voice tones, being able to observe body language … and yes, hearing the words. Communicate in the present.
My two bits for bringing a little balance and sanity back into your waking hours.
Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 37 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms, Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences.
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