What exactly is collaboration anyway? According to a quick Google search it is defined as “the action of working with someone to produce or create something”. These days we throw the word collaboration around as a way of describing either the technology and/or the act of getting stuff done. At its core, the concept of collaborating has a foundation in the social nature of being human and how we interact; we need each other.
A former manager of mine loathed email! Partly because you generally cannot effectively judge inflection in an email, but more so because it fails to provide the best avenue to communicate with another person. Think about your daily personal and work lives. Are we more or are we less connected with one-another than in the past? I would argue the latter. Ironically, the drive to better collaborate has contributed to the decline in what I’ll call the human tribal experience. It was not that long ago that if you needed to have a meeting you had a meeting…in a room…with people. Young people are especially vulnerable to becoming increasingly detached to real human interactions.
In an article published by The Atlantic (link), Jean M. Twenge noted, “The more I poured over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media.” Even more concerning she goes on to write, “Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”
Now I’m not suggesting that by any means are we becoming a society of manic depressives because of the shift towards more and more technology. What I am advocating is that we intentionally consider how we interact overall. There is a reason that I willingly travel long distances to sit down with a customer and talk with them about how they can best leverage technology, so their team(s) don’t have to travel long distances to collaborate. Ironic isn’t it? When you get right down to it, there is simply no substitute for picking up the phone and calling someone or a face-to-face conversation. In those interactions, infliction and emotion are on full display which is all part of that social nature of being human.
Sometimes the best way to get something done is to get up out of your chair and go talk to someone. No matter how advanced technology becomes, there’s still going to be something needed to move the air which enters your ear and causes tiny bones to oscillate, ultimately translating the sound directly to your brain. Want to talk? Just pick up the phone and give me a call. I’ll listen.
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