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The Forgotten Art of Human Connection

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A man and woman sit beside each other and have clearly forgotten the art of human connection.
6 min read

Human Connection in Business, the impact of the new digital age

We’ve recently had a guest blogger, who wishes to stay anonymous, come and share her experience with social media. While she speaks on personal issues, her words speak true on the importance of personal connection within the world of business, whether it be between employer and employee, coworkers or towards clients. We hope you find her experiences as insightful as we did.

Welcome to the 21st Century Facebook Experiment

The virtual world has become a mainstay in our everyday lives. Digitally, we rely on our devices to feed us information – where to be, when to be there, how to get there, reminders, alerts…move over Dick Tracy because it’s now our reality.  Right. Now.

And so, for the second year in a row, I continued with my social experiment.  When I first signed up to Facebook in January 2008, the only thing it wasn’t really interested in was the colour of my undies. Since then, it’s kept track of my life – births, deaths, marriages, new friends, old friends, reunions – so many moments – I don’t have to remember them all, Facebook does this for me.

Facebook organises my life. It tells me when events in my area are on and asks me if I’d like to go. It knows what games I like to play, it knows what I’ve searched in my browser, it knows my interests and it knows where I’ve been and reminds me of things I’ve done. It’s opened up a whole new world of connecting (and I say that loosely) with people from all around the globe, with interests similar to mine, depending on what I’m looking for.  

My newsfeed is where it all “happens”. World news, local news, local newspaper articles, snotty kids, proud parents, bitching in closed groups, found wallets, car park dings, lost puppies and plants for sale. Really, I only need to step outside of Facebook Land to go to work to get paid so I can get back onto Facebook to find out what’s happening.

And so follows the loss of the human connection.

See a comment you like from one of your friends – hit like. See a post in one of your groups?  Comment, and potentially be exposed to vicious comebacks because the written word can be easily misinterpreted – not that you’d say those things to someone’s face, but hey, keyboard warriors, right?

So, back to my Facebook Experiment.  Over two years ago, I hid my birthday about a month before the big day – and waited.  The big day came and went – a few of my friends remembered it was my birthday (or had event reminders/memories) and posted – most of them didn’t even notice that another year slid by.  Close family actually rang me, and cousins sent a text message. One long term non-Facebook user friend picked up the phone and called to wish me a happy birthday.

Roll on 12 months, the big day comes around again – another year older, another year wiser right? Still no Facebook birthday – mind you, at this point I was really dreading what I knew was going to happen and was really tempted to turn it back on.  The result? This year, only a few family members remembered (close family), one friend, and my long-term non-Facebook user friend also remembered.

Let’s just put this into perspective.  I have lots of friends, online and offline. I have lots of friends who have birthdays around the same time as mine, and we would always joke about a shared night out for a birthday dinner. So, it’s not like they had never wished me happy birthday before.

The world we live in has lost that human connection. We rely so much on social media to remind us of friend’s birthdays and special events. What happened to just making the effort and using other methods to remember? What happened to picking up the phone and calling or sending a text? Or birthday cards – is Hallmark still in business? 

Last year, my young teenage son forgot my birthday. While this may sound harsh, I used it to teach him a life lesson in relationships.  I taught him to use the contacts on his phone to store a birthday – a perpetual reminder that it’s going to happen!  This year, it worked! Amazing! A technique that doesn’t rely on Facebook – he even upgraded his phone and switched platforms and it still worked!

Building and keeping relationships 

It might sound like a no-brainer, but do you realise that knowing a person’s birthday and actually acknowledging it contributes to a better personal relationship? 

Take sales for example, and we are all in sales in one form or another.  Last week, I was chatting to one of our salespeople, she’s been doing sales for over 30 years and is a very successful salesperson. Here’s how the discussion went (I already knew when her birthday was, this was just a way to show her how to reveal it).

Us: general conversation

Me, interrupting at the right time:  What star sign are you?

Her:  Gemini.

Me: Oh wow, so what day of the month is that?

Her: (reveals day and month) – no hesitation.

As soon as she said her star sign, I knew it would be one of 2 months. When she gave me the day (and the month) I had her birthday.  All I had to remember was star sign and day.  

I pointed this out to her – and the technique I used to get the information.  Once I have this information, I add it to her contact card on my phone, and then I know I’ll get a reminder that it’s coming up closer to the date.  All it takes then is a phone call or text message and bam! I’m back in her “she remembered me” warm and fuzzy list. Top of the mind! What a great sales technique and a great way to keep in touch. Very little effort, a little planning and asking the right questions, and no Facebook involved!

It’s not hard!  It’s HUMAN!  And it’s a slowly dying skill in an evolving digital world.  When did we stop picking up the phone to catch up with a friend and replace it with an emoticon or virtual “hug”? Do people even realise that we are slowly creating a very lonely physical world?

So, who has a birthday coming up?

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