In today’s world of texting, tweeting, friending and un-friending, there is little doubt that in the U.S. and the western world, we have strongly embraced high tech. The cyber world with all its trapping and promises of increased productivity and competitive edge still grabs headlines, but there’s also much reason to question the value of high touch. Have we lost it and is there need for concern?
When I talk about high touch, I mean the way we relate to colleagues, employees, peers and supervisors. Are we considerate? Do we show them dignity, respect, understanding and do we respond appropriately to their reasonable needs?
Noted educator Arthur W. Coombs wrote, “People develop feelings that they are liked, wanted, acceptable and able as a result of having been liked, wanted, accepted and successful. One learns that he or she is these things not from being told, but only through the experience of being treated as though she or he were so. Here is the key to what must be done to produce more adequate people.”
When we treat colleagues in the manner that Coombs describes, not only are they happier and more adequate, they also become more productive and energized. This means the bottom line in a company becomes more adequate; it becomes enviable.
The companies and institutions that have thrived beyond a survival state are places where simple human relatedness and interpersonal sensitivity are the natural state of affairs. Without the state, workers are not resilient enough to cope with discomfort and challenges of change. The workers and managers begin to do just enough to get by or just what their job descriptions calls for and nothing more. When the corporate culture is insensitive, employees become more and more uninspired and unproductive.
The antidote to all this may be found in the words of Richard Evans. “Much of life is made of memories, warm and happy memories of small kindness and consideration, of courtesy, consistency, a mother’s attentive care, a father’s kindliness, a child’s thankfulness; thoughtfulness each day, not grand and rare and obvious outward acts-not all at once, but small and constant ways to each occasion comes.”
We must deny the urge to say we don’t have enough time for these things. We cannot afford to take these things for granted. This may be some of the most valuable and productive time any of us ever spend.
As leaders, we must recommit ourselves to developing a stronger sense of high touch so we can become role models for the virtue and the strength of faith which brings trust, strength of hope which allows for constructive anger and strength of love which brings commitment.
The question is, can high touch be genuinely authentic and truly achieved with a primary focus on high tech for our communication and relationship building with our co-workers?
What are your thoughts about high tech vs. high touch? Post your comments, I’m interested in what you think.