It’s a popular debate today, are we too connected by our technology or are we not connected enough to each other. Can you have a meaningful connection with someone via Instagram?
I can see both sides of the debate… actually I live on both sides of the debate. At work I prefer direct connections whenever possible, it’s faster to pick up the phone or walk down the hall then to rely on email (the second worst form of communication after texting). I’m a Recruiter and it’s such a critical part of what I do to develop a connection with my candidates to build rapport and trust.
It’s a different story in my personal life. With exception of my amazing wife Becky most of my relationships are maintained through a steady stream of ‘Likes’ texts and retweets. If my phone rings outside of work I almost always screen the call. My normal excuse is I spend all day talking to people so why would I want to do that on my spare time. Just reading that line makes me shake my head. Why would I avoid personal connections in private life but work so hard to build them professionally?
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I treat my personal and professional relationships so differently. What I’ve realized is that there is a common theme in almost all of my relationships. That theme is distance. At work I rely on knowledge and experience to build connections, but nothing too personal. It’s the PG “Company Manners” version of who I am. I’ve been doing it for so long it’s been completely transparent to me until now. I’m friendly and approachable on the outside but anxious and defensive on the inside.
At home with family I’m much more casual and open but still guarded and distanced. I love my family but I don’t talk to them that often. It feels so strange to admit that. I am so fortunate to have a loving family who are supportive and generous. I’m truly grateful to have them in my life but I don’t know if they know that. I think I worry that relationships have an expiry date and if I get too involved or share too much of myself I will inevitably get hurt. That is a legitimate risk but I guess no emotional risk, no emotional reward.
So what can I do? If I want deeper more meaningful connections I only have one option, I have to step into my own vulnerability and take the emotional risk. At work I will declare “I don’t know” more often, rather than hide behind feeling I have to know the answers I will be open to asking for help and admitting I don’t know. In my personal life I will not hide behind a wall of social media and instead try actually being social. When the phone rings I’ll answer it or better yet I’ll reach out and make the call.