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The Oxymoron of Social Media (4 Points for Product Managers)

We have all read an email, or text, Facebook post or Tweet that made us think the author was mad, or upset, or being rude? Have you ever been completely wrong in those feelings once you had a conversation with that person? We are living in a time where people are more comfortable socializing through anything other then face-to-face communication.

I believe that this is the cause of damaging and ineffective communication.  Why do I say this?  We have effectively removed all emotion, body language, voice fluctuation, eye contact, and many other items that help us truly understand what someone is saying via the unspoken word.  In turn our communication breaks down, and misunderstandings become prevalent in both the personal and business world.  In the end the more “connected” we are the more “disconnected” we have become.

I have worked on many teams that have been spread throughout the world, and I will tell you there is no substitute to face-to-face communication and the productivity it provides.  Have you ever heard “Wow, we got so much more done in person”, or felt it yourself? It’s true; we learn so much more and communicate more effectively when socializing with our colleagues in the truest form.

With this said, we need to fight the urge to use this thing we call social media and instead just be social.  This will increase productivity from both a professional and personal perspective and will allow us to be present and productive in the moment.

Here are a few things to consider to get this done:

  1. Deliver you message personally.  If you have a question for someone in another department or need some data, get up and walk to their office.  50% of our workforce will be Gen Y and Millennials by 2020 and the ongoing sentiment is that they would rather text or email, then visit an office.  Let’s make sure we buck that trend, and when possible promote personal interaction within our team.
  2. Don’t React!  If you receive an email or text that makes you feel someone is mad or being rude, pick up the phone or drop by.  Think about the emphasis that could be put on the email if it was said instead of written, then get clarity from the person – remember, you do not have the benefit of body language, which is 95% of what we look for in face-to-face interactions.
  3. Be Social.  Have a happy hour, potluck lunch or dinner or anything that gets your team and/or cross-functional team together and gather. Then gather all the cell phones at the door and eliminate the temptation and you will see just how much fun we can all have when we are not being attacked by the Anti Social “Social Media”
  4. Turn it all off.  I used to fly for 14 hours to Taiwan and the best part about the trip was that there was no cell phone or web connection.  The surprise is that when I landed…everything was ok! The world didn’t end and all my friends and family still remembered me!  The best part was I had hours of uninterrupted work, with a few hours of relaxation to be recharged and more productive going forward.  So find some time everyday and get unplugged, or even find a day during the week and make that your disconnected day.

So Buck the Anti Social “Social Media” trend and be more productive in both your life and workplace

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