Leadership Focus is written by Deke Copenhaver, Principal with Copenhaver Consulting LLC. The former mayor of Augusta, a triathlete, writer and runner, Deke is focused on transforming great ideas into great actions.
We’ve all done it right? Hit post or send on an email, a text, or on a social networking site, saying something to someone we would never say to their face and that we end up kicking ourselves for.
Once it’s out there it’s out there and it takes on a life of its own where spin control is pretty much not an option. The fall-out ultimately creates a firestorm of stress based on one single solitary moment of acting in the moment and not thinking about the consequences. Welcome to the modern world.
I’ve always shared with people that at times I see myself as an old hippie at heart. My hair isn’t long, I haven’t tuned in, turned on or dropped out, but I have always been fascinated by countercultures in the way that they’ve gone against the status quo.
In surveying the modern landscape and watching how communication in this world, mine included, has turned more and more to an online and often impersonal forum, I was struck with a thought.
Having grown up a rebellious kid, I always wanted to go against the grain. As an adult, I must admit that I retain some of that youthful point of view as I’ve never seen how adhering to the status quo or conventional wisdom could get you anywhere.
So, what would be the alternative or the subculture to the impersonal forms of communication we’ve all embraced? For me it’s pretty simple: the new counterculture is simply to refocus on the art of conversation.
As much as I love social networking and value it as a way to connect, I still value more the dying art of conversation. No key stroke can convey as much emotion, passion or conviction as a simple look in the eye or the sound of a human voice.
And even in a technology driven world the tone, texture, and words our voices deliver have an impact more wide ranging than we could ever imagine. And eye-to-eye contact will never lose its importance.
I often hear parents lament the fact their children are only focused on their cell phones and computer screens. But the fact is we’re all more guilty than we’d like to admit these days of turning our focus online, to our cell phones and to our tablets, with the results being spending less time talking to the people around us than we used to.
In the end, I’ve always believed the old physics lesson that to every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Our online lives are simply a fact of life these days, but there’s always the possibility to use this reality to swing the pendulum back just a bit and to rebel in a healthy way.
The next time you’re tempted to hit send or post on that ever important response to someone who probably didn’t mean to offend you, take a deep breath, pick up the phone and invite them to lunch for a good conversation.
Then pat yourself on the back for being a true rebel in the modern world.