Tonight marks the start of the new year in the Jewish calendar. I thought, given the occasion, that some of you might have resolutions on your mind so here is a thought and maybe something we can all resolve to do a bit better.
While our world has never been more connected I can’t recall a time when it seems as if people who work together seem very disconnected. What I mean is that people come in to the office and log on to their computers, put in their earphones, and do their things. When they need to interact with someone else on their team or elsewhere in the company they send email or instant message. That often applies even when the person to whom they are “speaking” is on the other side of an office wall or in the next cube. As a manager, this drove me crazy.
Maybe I’m very old school. I learned the interpersonal parts of business long before there was IM, email, or even computers on every desk. The nature of interpersonal communication these days, particularly among younger people is quite different. I appreciate that having unlimited texting trumps unlimited voice. However, when you think about it the one skill that many younger workers lack is the ability to read people. Email and IM are faceless and can’t communicate nuance. You can’t be sure you’re hearing tone accurately.
That was why I used to tell the folks with whom I worked that my expectation of them was that when they had need to communicate with a co-worker that they would get up and walk to the next cube. I thought it was important especially if that cube was located on another floor. Your presence means you are giving the matter a lot of attention and they should too. If they can’t go in person (it’s not easy to walk to the cube in another building or city), then call. Hear their voice. Gauge their tone. Learn to listen. If those things fail, then email.
That’s the thing I’m suggesting we resolve to do. Be more human as the world gets less so. Walk to the next cube instead of writing yet another email. I’m going to try. Will you?