Connection. It’s a word we hear a lot; It is used often in business and in everyday personal communication. It is a key buzz word in advertising these days. Marketers strive to “make an emotional connection” with consumers. Cellular phone companies and Internet providers spend millions of dollars to attract new customers by comparing and boasting their fast speeds of connection. Why connect in a second when you can connect in a millisecond? At this moment, there are billions of dollars spent on the refining and deployment of 5G technology, promising that it will increase your speed of connection 40X faster than the currently available technology.
Along with this era of fast and faster connections, have also come communication platforms that facilitate virtual socializing and introductions. We can connect with people – whether we know them or not – around the world and amass a following that then takes on a life of its own.
We assess the quality of our contribution to society and our credibility by the number of connections, “likes” and comments we receive. It is easy to get lured into the belief that everything is all about us.
What does it mean, this word connection? It derives from the Latin conectere, meaning to bind or join. Merriam Webster defines connection as a joining together, a conduit for bringing two or more things together. In a more relatable context, connection is the bringing together of two or more entities, ideas, or persons.
Today, technology has become the primary facilitator of connections; we can take care of almost every daily need without interacting with another person. We can order groceries online and pick them up, order a meal, and have it delivered to our door. We can take care of our banking right from our computer or deposit a check from our cellphone. The list and examples go on and on for the various ways and means available to make connections.
While technology certainly makes some tasks more convenient, it dramatically curtails our person to person interaction. Personally, it reduces the number of times I can say thank you to someone for their attention and service. Instead, I get to fill out a survey to rate my experience.
I believe it is essential for people to know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. It helps to keep them – me -inspired and to know that what they are doing makes a difference. Comments and likes have now assumed that role. But somehow it does not seem as meaningful. I don’t know whether algorithms can appreciate gratitude.
In our quest to connect quickly, authenticity and sincerity seem to have been left in the void, rendering our connections somewhat cursory. In our quest to connect instantly on our devices and social platforms, we have actually disconnected from each other. We have been left wanting. And research is beginning to bear this out. Isolation and loneliness are emerging as significant concerns, the antidote to which, according to an article by the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is “encouraging people to build meaningful, mutually beneficial connections…” However, in Miraculous Relationships*, Deepak Chopra reminded us that “While our ego-mind may feel isolated and separate, our essential nature is whole and inextricably connected to the universe.”
Of course, technology is not all to blame. I would not have the privilege of writing for you were it not for technology. The opportunity came as a result of a comment made in passing during a conversation over lunch with a long-time personal connection.
Making a real connection requires intention. To paraphrase an insight from James Redfield’s unique and compelling novel, The Celestine Prophecy, everyone who crosses our path has something for us. It is our job to figure out what that special something might be. My experience is that it can be a thrilling adventure and usually takes more than a millisecond to establish.
Ideally, authentic connections fuel understanding and compassion and foster relationships. These relationships, in turn, enable us to be of help to one another and bring joy and laughter to each other. We may have unwittingly allowed algorithms to become the stand-in for more authentic connection and personal interaction.
Perhaps it’s time to recalibrate towards balancing our reliance on fast and furious introductions with developing authentic personal connections. After all, balance is the first law of the universe.
Some things to consider:
- What can you do to strengthen your connection to the people you encounter?
- Have technology and social media platforms become a stand-in for you?
Until next time, continue to be blessing and be blessed.
* Deepak Chopra, Meditation on Miraculous Relationships, Day 2
Deborah Gray-Young is the managing partner of D. Gray-Young, Inc. a sales marketing consulting and coaching firm providing strategic communications planning and training for marketers, agencies and media companies.
An ICF accredited coach, Deborah is the author of three books:
What Do They Mean When They Say…?”, Decoding Performance Evaluation Speak, YOU 3.0: A Guide to Overcoming Roadblocks for Professional Women of Color and The Young Professional’s Handbook, a primer for young people entering the professional workforce. All are available on Amazon and Kindle
Deborah is based in Chicago.
Follow her on LinkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/dgrayyoung/
Thanks for sharing valid points that should give us pause. I do not plan to allow technology to stand in and will make an effort to thank colleagues and friends in person.
I really enjoyed this article. Deborah really spoke a truth that resonates with me and why I am more intentional with making sure I have meaningful conversations with family, friends, co-workers, etc. as much as I can. For example, over lunch or dinner. Taking breaks from social media. Sitting down without distractions when talking on the phone. Most people multi-task these days and are not giving their full attention to the other person. Great article Deborah. This needs to be published in the schools and other pertinent publications for the masses to read. #welldone Birdie;)
Your article reminds me how many of us become less empathetic as technology grows. So, I like the idea that you bring forth from The Celestine Prophecy: “…everyone who crosses our path has something for us. It is our job to figure out what that special something might be.” As I think about strengthening my connection with people, I see the outcome as a gift. It may be something as small as an opportunity for me to patient on a call with a customer service rep who does not speak English as clearly as I am accustomed, to having a great conversation on an airplane with my seat mate. The opportunity to strengthen our connections with people be they brief or something that turns into a longer term is truly a way forward for building empathy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.