Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Is Automation Is Leading To Impersonal Communication

In our social media crazy world, we have many tools that allow us to automate our communications.  While productivity is awesome, it can lead to stale and impersonal exchanged and sometimes hurt feelings.  

Automation tools are not necessarily bad.  Finding ways to manage the huge amounts of information that comes and goes from our lives is a great idea, but we must be aware of the consequences. 

Too often the tools that make our lives easier can complicate things for others.  There is a fine line between efficiency and being rude in how we engage.  It is easy for others to misinterpret intention when we automate.  And not all of these tools are ideal for everyone.  What a busy executive or celebrity does online is not always the best thing for everyone else.

Recently I head from someone that they have outsourced 100% of their Twitter communications.  Their assistant not only does their self-promoting tweets, but also carries on conversations as if they are the person.  That just seems wrong.  Additionally the person bragged that his own daughter held an ongoing Twitter conversation with him and never realized she was not actually chatting with her dad.  While he saves time by never being on Twitter, I am not sure that is really what is intended with "social media".  Is that social?  Or simply a form of outbound advertising?  And as readers of someone's Twitter, do we feel cheated if they are not involved?

Another person's email auto-responds with instructions on how to best communicate with him.  While this person is a highly sought after business leader whose time is limited, I misunderstood what his message was saying, and thus think I offended him in my response to his auto-response.  I do not receive as many emails as this person, so I am not being judgmental about his methods.  However, I do not think automation is the best way for every person to reply to all communications.  

(Note, the person I am referring to is the most generous executive I know when it comes to giving of his time to others, and in his case this high level of automation is necessary.  My point here is I misunderstood what he was saying, and I assume it is easy for others to jump to assumptions from this type of message....not that he was wrong for being automated).

I have warmed up to the idea of scheduling tools, as they seem to make it easier for busy people to schedule their time.  These are great for those willing to meet with others, and for those with podcasts who have large numbers of guests to get on the calendar.  I still prefer to talk to people and find a convenient time for a meeting, as I do not do so many meetings that it is unmanageable to figure out my calendar.  While I admit I am not as efficient as I could be with every action, I am just me being me.

How we communicate impacts how we build relationships. No matter how technologically advanced we become we cannot automate friendships.  People have feelings, and those influence our connections to others.  We misinterpret what we think people are saying, get our feelings hurt, and form opinions about others.  This can be worse in a world of typed communication, as without the face-to-face interactions we have less to go on when making snap decisions.

So automate in our digital world, but remember that there can be negative side effects.   Automation is not going away, so as we do it more often, I think we just need to be aware that communication is a two way street.

What do others think?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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