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Look Up and Smile

Terri0041-MPublished on meetingsmags.com

During some recent travels, I was struck by how many people I noticed looking down at their cell phones, iPads, iPods and other electronic devices. People with their eyes on their electronics are missing what is going on around them. 

Technology ... it can be beautiful or beastly. In our effort to connect, we have become, in some ways, more disconnected. Translate that to your personal or work area: what are you/we missing by looking down, instead of up at what's going on around us?

I see people coming to meetings, sitting down, and turning on their iPads or punching out text messages instead of connecting with the other people – other human beings who share your interest in the subject matter being presented or person speaking at the gathering in the room.

There's a word for it, in my opinion: inconsiderate. We're at the meeting to gather information from one another and electronic devices are getting in the way. Clicking sounds and ring tones – no matter how musical or cute – detract from the speakers. It's easy to miss what's said or shown when your eyes are looking down. I say: look up! You just might find someone you'd like to say hello to. You might connect and learn something new from a human being instead of a website.

It might even be worth starting meetings by suggesting attendees do a brief check-in with their gadgets, followed by a request for "no electronics use" while the meeting is in progress. Another suggestion for meeting leaders is to provide frequent breaks to allow attendees to check in, send texts or emails and then proceed with the important business the meeting was called for, minus electronic interferences. 

My feeling about constant electronic contact stems from the fact that I've always been what's called a "people person." I enjoy talking with people and learning their stories. That's what suited me for jobs in human resources and now as a talent agent. As a people person, I think the ways people communicate with each other these days seem rather unfriendly, even if they have some good uses.

Electronic communications, including text, email, and what are called "social media," are incredible timesaving tools. But they have also allowed us to put too much distance between ourselves and other people. I think it's ironic that social media actually are making us a world of unsociable people. It's even become common to end relationships via text message and, of course, by "unfriending" on Facebook. For example, a British survey of more than 2,000 men and women a few years ago revealed that one out of seven of them had been dumped via text message or email. There's even an entry in the Urban Dictionary for "text dump." That's so cold!

At 5 Star Talent & Entertainment, my personal contact with clients and entertainers underpins our success. Sitting down with my clients or vendors, or attending an event where I can visit with them is so important. It's impossible for me to do that via a text, Facebook message, or email. I make use of online communications, but firmly believe that the personal touch is much more effective.

When I look up I can see the sunset, the moonrise and the face of someone I want to get to know. If I have my eyes on my gadgets ... oops!! I could miss out on all that.

I had a recent conversation with my good friend Mitch Guinn. He uses the Internet and social media to catch up on news and personal information. He said his wife advised him that with their kids rapidly growing up he should "...trade Facebook time for Face Time."

So, stop letting technology take all your time. It’ll be there when you power back on.

At your next meeting or event, look up and smile, I guarantee someone will smile back. And isn’t that the point…to connect? The best way to do that is to get your face up!

If you look up and smile at the world, the world will smile back at you.

- Terri

 
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