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Is More Technology Always a Good Thing?

For better or worse, Human Resource Departments are often involved or charged with determining the methods and norms of internal communications.  Communication is a “human” process so this is no surprise.  But as advances in technology continue, it is important to remember that, after all, we are all still human.

This was the subject of a recent SHRM article titled “5 Keys to Balancing Technology in the Workplace” (DiCostanzo, 9/21/15).  The first key is simple – Eye Contact .  Most know that person-to-person eye contact is the most important and direct signal that communication is occurring and effective.  If one or more people are looking at their smartphone, they may be primarily communicating with their phone but cannot be intent on the human communications occurring around them. 

You may have encountered the scene at a local restaurant where a family is sitting around a dining table pointed in each other’s direction but all with heads down looking at their smartphones.  Is personal, meaningful human-to-human communication occurring here?  The same goes for a workplace conference room table.

A second point is rather low-tech – take handwritten notes at meetings .  And the opposite, put away your computer during meetings.  Studies show we listen more attentively and retain more when we hand write meeting notes.

Third is rather obvious – silence your phone when in important person-to-person communications.  Not only does this improve communications by intentionally preventing an intrusive interruption but it is a respectful thing to do.

The final two points are Lead By Example and Establish Rules .  Managers and Leaders set the tone for behaviors when it comes to technology.  Be thoughtful about the example being set.  And even take it further by creating organization rules or norms so there is no question what the preferred behaviors are. 

As new, more pervasive and more mobile technology creeps into every corner of our lives, these five simple steps can go a long way toward rich, meaningful and effective communications in any organization.