Have We Become Communication Cowards?

“When was the last time you actually said to someone’s face, I don’t want to be friends with you anymore”? I overheard this while sitting in a local coffee shop working. It was two friends in their early 40’s talking about friendship.

She posed a good question.

In fact, I wondered when was the last time I said that? Technology makes it easy to “unfriend”, “block”, “unfollow” those whom you deem unworthy of friendship, and while it is easy, it isn’t forcing us to have those difficult conversations about our feelings and why we feel that way and talking about it and truly feeling it.

So to my surprise, I just saw a new app that is supposed to foster higher levels of employee engagement. This app by its description, “. . . helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner.”

In theory great idea, it runs along the lines of ‘360 review’ where a person is reviewed by bosses, team members, peers and direct reports. The difference is, that in a '360 review' there is an individual who will collect the data, analyze it and use discretion in how they communicate the words back to the person being reviewed. In this manner, they can help the person who is being reviewed to want to make a change.

Telling someone as it is according to you isn’t truth, it is an opinion. I was curious about the app so I started reading the reviews. In reading the reviews there were many people who praised it for getting such amazing great feedback. However, there were more people receiving mean feedback that was unhelpful and to make it worse for them don’t know who it is from. This doesn’t give the receiver an opportunity to talk about it with them, fix what is wrong in a relationship and address the concerns in a meaningful and transformational way.

I think it gives people the perfect opportunity to hide behind technology, say mean spirited, and truths according to them and take no responsibility. This is not a millennial problem either it is a humanity problem.

In the spirit of transforming low morale and creating harmony productivity, engaged employees and happy people in positive environments, hiding behind technology will not solve these relationship or communication problems. A harmonious environment doesn't lack negativity. A harmonious environment fosters healthy dialogue where people can express their feeling about a situation or person, be heard and come to a solution. Being able to give constructive feedback and talking about your emotions is a highly valuable skill, that is critical for relationships, health, job and life success.

The best lesson I learned growing up was through confronting these issues.

I remember there was a girl who used to bully me on my bus home when I was 11 years old. She would say nasty things and give me the finger and made me feel scared. So I did the only thing I knew what to do. I told a teacher what was happening. The teacher brought us together and we talked about it, no one got in trouble. In fact, she and I became very good friends and the issue had stopped.

Had I not had the courage to say something I wouldn’t have learned that dialogue was the solution. Although tough situations have happened in adult life and others have not necessarily responded the same way, I will continue to confront situations when I can. It takes courage to have emotional

Is technology making us cowards? What do you think?

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