As humans, we have an inherent drive to be accepted and liked by others. Why? Where does this drive come from and how do humans go about achieving this acceptance? If you don’t believe or aren’t certain humans have an inherent drive to be accepted or liked by others, think about your first day at work. Were you nervous? Did you try to not screw up or ask dumb questions? Did you try to do extra tasks to convey your work ethic? If so, a primary reason you did one, some, or all of those things is because you have an inherent drive to be accepted and liked by others (in this example, your colleagues). The ability to build acceptance with those around you is the ability to build rapport.
Up until about the mid-1990’s, the only way to gain this acceptance was through your actions with others and how you communicated with others verbally. But in the 1990’s, amazing technological advancements allowed us to communicate and build acceptance from others nonverbally. How convenient? Why attend conferences and meet others in person to convey a message you are trying to get across to many people when you can just as easily write a blog? Why thank somebody in person when you can send them a thank you text just as easily? Technology has allowed us to communicate in ways we never thought possible 30 years ago.
I have interviewed over 1,000 professionals this past year and asked them what skills they think recent college graduates lack after graduation. Far and away the most common answer was recent graduates lack the ability to communicate. But why? With all of the technological know-how and all of the additional forms of communication, how can recent college graduates lack communication skills?
Has technology discouraged us to communicate face to face?
From these responses, yes! Today, you are considered weird and deemed socially awkward if you start a conversation with a stranger without some sort of goal or objective from the conversation. It is almost as if the efficiency that has been provided in technological communication has permeated into social communication. It feels as if physical conversations are a transaction and if the transaction is not apparent to both parties then nothing positive can be gleaned from that conversation.
Is this right? Can society function with purely technological communication and only communicate face to face “when needed”? I don’t think so.