Digital communication only takes us so far.
Generation Y loves technology. They’ve grown up immersed in text messages and emails. So it’s completely logical that many of them prefer communicating digitally rather than talking in person. I get the appeal. It’s quick and easy, and it’s what they are used to. But it’s also impersonal, disconnected, and very limited in its ability to convey real emotion.
Emotion Trumps Emoticons
A Gen Y-er and I were recently discussing the fact that technology provides many great tools, but that people do business with people. She agreed, but she went on to show me two different ways to text “I love you.”
I looked at her in disbelief and said, “You’re texting ‘I love you’?”
We both laughed. However, the next part was telling. She explained that when she was in a conference and couldn’t call her boyfriend to tell him she loved him, she texted him instead.
Baby Boomer that I am, I pointed out that she could have waited until the break and actually used her phone the way it was meant to be used—to have a real conversation, to hear him laugh or sigh, and to communicate those three little words with true emotion, not emoticons.
Some Things Are Just Better in Person
Do you remember the 2001 Southwest Airlines “Some Things Are Just Better in Person” campaign? The commercial series focused on interactions that can only be done in person, including:
- You Can’t Fax a Handshake
- You Can’t Pat a Voicemail on the Back
- You Can’t Tickle a Voicemail
- You Can’t Fax a Pillow Fight
- You Can’t Slow Dance Online
- You Can’t Have Coffee With a Website
- You Can’t Smell Homemade Bread on Your Pager (It’s extinct…)
- You Can’t Email a Kiss
Southwest Airlines isn’t perfect (no business is). But the company regularly raises the bar from the bare minimum to a higher, more personal level of communication with customers. And this sets them apart from the rest.
Disconnect to Really Connect
It’s time we all remembered the value of getting personal—at work and at home. We don’t regret the texts we didn’t send. We regret the time we don’t spend with the people we love. Put down the phone and really be with the people who matter—your spouse, children, boyfriend, girlfriend, family, co-workers, or friends. They’ll love you for it.
For more on why the personal connection matters (at work and at home), get your copy of my new book, Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal—now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Or get the digital version for your Kindle or Nook.
What are some things you think are better in person?