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10th Key Observation: “Don’t Confuse Connectivity with Intimacy”

Wellness in the Workplace 2.0

What Got Us Where We Are Today…Won’t Get us Where We Need to be Tomorrow

10 Key Observations from Thirty-Five Years in the Field


10th Key Observation…



Don’t Confuse Connectivity with Intimacy

presented for your intellectually driven consideration, emotionally driven engagement and—most important—your viscerally driven action



Stop for a second and consider the possibility that

the more touch-points we have…the less in-touch we’ve become.

The other day, I heard a TV reporter ask a 20-something woman how often she talked on the phone.  Her response was, “Almost never.”  She, like most of those under forty, prefers texting to actual phone calling.  Her response as to why she texts:  “I find that texting allows me to avoid the awkwardness that comes with actual interaction.”

No, seriously, that’s what she said.  As for the reporter, not an eyebrow raised or a follow-up question asked.

“…allows me to avoid the awkwardness that comes with actual interaction.”

Is it just my white hair that finds this alarming or are there others of you out there that are just a little creeped out by her answer?

Yes, I understand the value of texting and instant messaging and I realize that the sheer numbers of contacts and connections has increased significantly. This part is all good.  The creepy part is that…knowingly or not…I think she nailed it.  Have we exchanged intimacy and actual interaction for expediency and ease?

As for the full spectrum world of technology, it’s been said that computers like IBM’s “Watson” will never totally  replace humans because they cannot convey the subtly and nuance often used to deliver the true meaning behind our messages.  All of us have dozens of shades of smiles, frowns, voice inflections, intonations, body postures, eye shifts, lifts and squints that add color, texture and clarity to our interactions.

As a university lecturer, mentor and trainer of hundreds of health promotion professionals I always stress the importance of crystal clear communication.  The order of preference for personal communication is:

  1. Actual Face-to-Face
  2. Electronic Face-to-Face (FaceTime, Skype)
  3. Audio (formally known as telephone)
  4. Video Message
  5. Audio Message
  6. Descriptive Personal Email
  7. Text Messages (Think 140 Characters or Less)

Wait, before anyone calls me old — “chronologically superior” — or out of touch (that would be ironic), let me again praise technology and its value in wellness, health promotion and daily living, in general.  I love it for peer support, reminders, data uploads, medical monitoring, rallying action, spreading information, quick hellos, and growing social networks.  It truly is remarkable and we’ve just scratched the surface!  Hot damn, hallelujah and bring it on.  My kids have the best hand-me-downs you can imagine.  At this very moment my daughter is anxiously waiting for me to pick up my new iPad2 so she can have my “old” iPad1.

But please, please, along with high-tech, keep fostering and building high-touch. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the IBM computer kick butt on Jeopardy but it’s hard to imagine “Dinner with Watson” coming to a theater near you, anytime soon. Also, all the emoticons in the world can’t replace a hug, a knowing look or an actual smiley face from a real little kid. I don’t find interactions with them to be awkward, at all.


What say you?


PS.  Toronto?

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