Our highly wired culture encourages us to constantly be ‘in touch’ and communicating through texts, Twitter, phone calls, emails, Facebook, Linked In, you name it… It seems we are forever posting or checking updates, sending or responding to texts or emails, essentially constantly in the act of communicating – at least electronically.
But sometimes all this electronic communication crowds out in-person communication. I have seen countless face-to-face meetings interrupted by a phone call or a text; it is increasingly difficult to enforce the ‘no electronics’ rule at meetings; and I have even witnessed family meals with clients where family members are texting each other at the table (rather than speaking)! I sometimes wonder if we raising a generation of people who will be increasingly uncomfortable with direct human interaction.
In addition, the constant interruption of electronics also challenges people’s ability to focus and work on projects in an uninterrupted manner. As the norm in many business (and social) settings is that folks will respond to a received communication almost instantly, there is pressure to always check and respond to email, texts, etc. This effectively prevents individuals from having uninterrupted time for complex discussions or quiet work.
While I would never advocate eliminating electronic modes of communication (I am email-dependent), I do think families need to insist on some ‘electronics off’ time – both in the business and in the family. At your next family meeting you might put electronic communication on the agenda and have a frank discussion about how it is helping and harming the family and the business, and consider some policies to manage it intentionally.