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Speechless: How technology is crippling us

Grab the methadone.

"I don't have to have it. I can stop using it whenever I want." This was the response I got from my kids when I told them that I was going to impose a one day technology detox. ONE day!

Now I know that I have been studying psychology for awhile but you don't have to be a social scientist to recognize those magical words as being the first sign of an addiction. Obviously, they are not literally addicted to their iPhonepodpads, but their reactions are not unique to kids, and certainly becoming more of the norm rather than the exception.

Look into my eyes.

Nothing compares to old-fashioned, face-to-face communication regardless of how advanced technology becomes. Forbes contributor Susan Tardanico explains: As human beings, our only real method of connection is through authentic communication. Studies show that only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word. A whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language. Indeed, it’s only when we can hear a tone of voice or look into someone’s eyes that we’re able to know when “I’m fine” doesn’t mean they’re fine at all…or when “I’m in” doesn’t mean they’ve bought in at all. Even with the increased use of video technologies like Skype, FaceTime, and GoToMeeting, there is still something that gets lost in translation that an old-fashioned one-on-one conversation will always

Mental backspacing.

A few months ago I conducted a critique of my own verbal communication skills as I conducted an interview with a client. I recorded the interaction, transcribed a 5 minute portion of the interview, then critiqued my own communication abilities. As expected, my transcript was filled with a number of UMs and OKAYs. However, I noticed another odd occurence. In my conversation with my client, it seemed that I would often start a statement, rewind my thoughts, and then restate my original thoughts in a more coherent and meaningful way. Had I done this once or twice I probably wouldn't have noticed it. But I think I recorded myself doing this "rewind" half a dozen times within a 5 minute period! It then occured to me that this is the same process that I use in my writing. I type, I delete, I rethink, reword, and retype. Had technology crippled my own ability to communicate verbally with humans?

Practice makes (almost) perfect.

After realizing that I had a propensity to "backspace" my statements during conversations, I was motivated to work to correct the odd occurrence. Now, instead of making verbal prompts, I try to stop...gather my thoughts...and continue with my statement.

By not "practicing" our verbal communication skills, those skills have the potential to deteriorate. In the same way that not working out can allow your body to deteriorate, not exercising the parts of the brain that require actual human interaction can cause our brains to turn to mush. Regardless of whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, humans need other humans for healthy survival.

My challenge to you is to undergo a technology detox periodically and to take note of your own verbal communication skills.


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