The modern era is overly saturated with technology. Everywhere you turn, this device or that device is making life easier. Except when it comes to interpersonal communication and the meaningful connections we strive to create with others.
The greatest threat to making connections is the ever-helpful smart phone. On the one hand, it allows us to stay in touch at the ease of a fingertip. Email apps. Facebook. Twitter. All right there with easy and constant access. Even associations have apps nowadays. One the other hand, always being tuned in somewhere virtually makes it difficult to tune in personally.
There are four specific impacts this has on both meeting success and how people connect with one another. They are:
- Approachability. When a person is glued to their phone, checking messages, reading that new text, or simply surfing the web, they are clearly busy. Others don’t feel comfortable walking up to another person and interrupting whatever important task they are doing. This makes them unapproachable and thus two people miss out on a possible valuable connection.
- Discourtesy. The conversation is going well. Then the phone rings or a text chimes. Proper etiquette would require the call go to voicemail or the text message to wait unread while focus remains on the person in front of you. But, people feel the need to instantly check-in, which halts the connection development in its tracks.
- Receptibility. We’ve all been to that meeting where a speaker looks out to the audience and sees a sea of glowing lights on the faces of those in attendance. Only a few faces are pointed at the speaker. The speaker feels that the audience is not receptive to their message.
- Distractibility. For most people, multi-tasking is not recommended. Splitting the focus between two activities, the one at the meeting and the one on the phone, means that full attention cannot be given to either of them. Key points are missed in each, and thus less value is obtained because people are not engaged in the moment.
Technology is impacting us in drastic ways, ways that shape our professional lives, for good or for bad. When it comes to your chapters, the very technology that often helps people get their work done is stifling their ability to get the most out of your meetings. Overcoming this hurdle is not an easy task, but it begins with partnering with your members. Together, you can creatively come up with a solution that works for your members and allows for full participation and presence in the meetings.