It loops around every decade or so:  social - interpersonal skills have intrinsic personal and business value beyond one's intellectual or technical skills.  In today's world - the emphasis on the value of a 'technical degree' carrying certifications and specific job function is the new focus within higher education.  General degrees have diminishing value.

But what about the value of interpersonal communication skills?  What about the skill of carrying on a meaningful conversation?  What about management skills or the ability to work with teams?  What about the skill of moving an organization or department in a certain direction without 'blowing up' the organization?

Well, it's possible that we're losing those skills ... to social networking!   I mean, it's tough enough to find people comfortable with carrying on a general conversation without providing the option to hide those personal interactions behind a computer screen or mobile smart phone.

"Oops, excuse me, this phone call is more important than our conversation," some imply.  "Oops, excuse me, this text message - or e-mail - is so urgent that I'm going to stop, interrupt or avoid this conversation," others subtly imply.  Some of us choose Facebook or social networking over phone calls or face-to-face conversations.

Not that there's anything wrong with that ... I mean, there's a time and place for everything and certainly I love the entertainment and connection that Facebook, e-mail, text messaging and social networking provide me.  Life is more rich and full with this new medium!  Life is about relationships and the internet definitely enhances relationships and communication in many different ways!

I do challenge us to turn away from the mobile smart phone to focus on the people around us, though.  "You, right there in front of me, are more important than any status update, tweet, text message or e-mail that flows into my world ... it's all about you right now!"  That's our challenge for 2010 and beyond. 

Redevelop and choose the skill of interacting with the people around us.  Get out there!  STP:  See The People!  Make that phone call!

Here's a couple of articles that deliver the message in a couple of different ways.  The first is a sharp slap in the face to those of us who are trapped in our technical fixation.  Rachel Marsden in the December 30, 2009 WSJ: 

Technology and the New 'Me' Generation

Computers and cell phones have become the narcissist's best friends.

The second is a general refresher in the value of holding strong direct relationships.  Kevin Helliker writes in the December 29, 2009 WSJ:

Daring to Live Your Life Offline

As we head into 2010, let's resolve to enjoy the physical presence of those around us more often.  Let's take Ms. Marsden's advice, "When I set up a meeting with someone, they're the only person in the room."   Let's resolve to step out of our comfort zone (or back into it) and embrace more meaningful direct conversations in 2010.

A technology addict,

Michael Ritsema
i3 Business Solutions, LLC

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