Is Today’s Society Really “Connected”?

By: Marissa Salway, Account Executive

Smartphones. Facebook. Twitter. Constant notifications. Constant communication. But does this constant communication really make our society the most efficient communicators? I always laughed at my grandma when she talked about how she used to share a phone line with a few other houses. If she wanted to call my grandpa she’d have to wait until the line was free, which could take hours. Nowadays, in a matter of seconds, I could text my friend everything she needs to know while watching Netflix, breezing through twitter, and updating my status. But in the midst of all this madness I realized one day that despite the fact that our generation has taken the greatest steps towards increasing the quantity of communication, we have taken even greater steps away from the quality of communication. We are getting out of practice with face-to-face communication-something everyone needs in both their personal and professional life, whether you are an engineer or a PR professional.

The current generation of PR professionals has to find the balance between communicating quickly and personally. Here are some tips on how you can develop good habits even while you are still in college:

1. Visit office hours

Instead of constantly flooding your professor’s inbox, visit office hours to ask a few questions. This 20-minute exchange allows you to make personal connections and relationships with your professor, which could lead to future opportunities or written recommendations.

2. Strike up small talk wherever you can

Whether you are washing your hands in the bathroom or waiting for the same bus, ask the person next to you how their day is going or compliment them to strike up conversation. It’s an easy way to get in the habit of appropriate and meaningful small talk. You never know who you’re sitting next to!

3. Put the time aside for a phone call or Skype date with a friend

If your friend goes to another school or your schedules simply don’t match up, put 15 minutes aside to ask what is going on in their life. This minimizes miscommunications because you can hear the actual tone in their voice instead of jumping to conclusions about what they are trying to say.

4. Put the phone away when hanging out with your friends

Whenever you are with someone give him or her your undivided attention. As soon as an uncomfortable situation comes up or there is an awkward silence it is easy to scroll through Twitter until the moment passes. Awkward situations come up every day and you won’t be able to fall back on Twitter at work. Instead use this time to practice striking up a new conversation or making a joke to fill in the awkward silence.

5. Eye contact

Eye contact goes a long way. It really shows that you are paying attention and respecting what the person has to say. Even though it may be easy for you to listen to what your friend is saying while reading someone else’s text, it gives the impression you don’t really care.

While it’s unrealistic to completely eradicate texting, emailing, and tweeting our generation should “take a few steps back” and practice more face-to-face communication. It will make you look more professional and respectful if you don’t rely on your phone for communication.

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