Put the “real” social back in your relationships
I love social media. I do. I love Facebook because I enjoy seeing pictures of friends I haven’t seen in person in years, and following the cool experiences they’re doing around the world. I like Twitter because I enjoy having online exchanges with people with similar interests as me that I otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to have. And Pinterest – well, Pinterest is still growing on me, but I love the fact that I take inspiration from someone’s recipe from across the country and then make it my own.
We spend a lot of time in the public relations industry counseling our clients on how to best use social media programs to engage in conversation with customers. We teach them how to not blast messages at people but rather how to listen to people and respond accordingly.
But with all of the social media networking opportunities out there, I never want lose sight of the good old fashioned live in-person conversational exchange.
You know, two people, face to face (or minimally, over the phone) having an actual dialogue.
All the email exchanges, text messages and social media updates in the world just can’t replace the foundation of a real relationship that comes from interacting directly with someone else.
I’m always confounded when someone would rather spend 15 minutes typing out a response to an email when it would have taken 2 minutes to answer the same question over the phone. Or, in an office environment – team members who will instant message each other rather than getting up from their desk and going to talk in person about an assignment.
I even see it in my five-year-old son — when he’s looking at the iPad, iPhone or whatever gadget he’s managed to get his hands on — and I try to have a conversation with him — he won’t look at me. He mumbles some response under his chin while he’s focusing on a new round of Angry Birds.
So I make him put the device down, look me in the eye, and answer my question. (I also had to put a limit on the time he spends on the devices, but that’s an entirely different topic for a parenting blog, I’m sure).
What happens as a society if we stop having real, live conversations with each other?
Let’s challenge ourselves to look for opportunities to “keep it real” in our conversations. Instead of introducing a new idea in an email – pick up the phone and call the intended recipient to run it by them first (email can be used later as a conversation follow up with next steps included). You might find the conversation turns into a brainstorming session and uncovers some entirely new ideas.
Or instead of spending 30 minutes texting someone, find time to meet with them and talk for 30 minutes face-to-face instead. You might be surprised how much more fun it can be than giving your thumbs carpal tunnel syndrome.
Everyone’s busy. Jobs, kids, networking events, volunteer work. It’s easy to become reliant on social media tools to become the basis of your interpersonal relationships.
But just for today – take some time to engage with someone in person. Hear the sound of a laugh. Pick up on a frustration level. Listen to someone else. And have someone listen to you.
Put the “real” social back into your relationships. Bring back the real conversation.