Flexing Your Connection Muscle
However you feel about artificial intelligence, here’s a piece of natural intelligence: We can throw all the innovation and technology we want out to the world, but the biggest problem in our business and personal lives remains the same: a lack of connection.
Under the influence of technology, younger generations are unable to develop their interpersonal muscles because their first flirtations happen on Snapchat. They don’t pick up the phone to call their crush, to politely say hi to the family member who picks up the receiver—they may not even speak to their object of affection because of technology. We’re losing a big piece of our lives. This is moving us further away from person-to-person connection.
Genuine, person-to-person connection is what we all need more of, both inside our organizations and outside of our organizations. What’s your dream? What fires you up? No matter what your answer is, the solution is prioritizing face-to-face interaction. I believe in hybrid workplaces, but I also believe in workplaces that foster authentic relationships. Recently I saw a tweet from Adam Grant proposing that companies pay employees hourly rates when they have company get-togethers or dinners. Adam, I completely disagree with this. How about creating a culture where when you say, “Hey, does anyone want to go out to dinner?” everyone says “yes.”
We must blur the line between work and play, and right now, it’s going in the wrong direction, with the wrong solution. And frankly, if employees need to be bribed with hourly pay, it’s becoming a little ridiculous.
Instead, let’s enable the water-cooler bump-ins, the in-between moments. We’re missing out on so much when we’re just spinning by ourselves in front of our computers in our basements. We must engineer more moments of real, authentic connection among people into our lives and our workplaces.
Here’s one simple way to flex your interpersonal muscle: Answer the “let’s” with a “by when?” Often, if someone says, “Let’s grab coffee,” or “Let’s grab dinner,” nothing happens. But if you say, “By when,” you quickly discover whether or not that person truly wants to have coffee or dinner with you. Then you’re meeting the next week, in person, and your reaction is, “Wait! This connection doesn’t happen very often. This is awesome.” You’ve opened the door to authentic connection and accountability.
So go take that coffee, take that meeting, go to that lunch, go on that walk. Whatever it is, just go there. The more connections we have in the day, the more epiphanies we get, because we see things through new lenses and perspectives.