Talking is Still the Best Technology

Jul 3, 2014, Written by Sue Miley

We are on a cruise with our son for his senior trip.  The cruise world is a different place than my normal living.  It’s all kinds of things, like:

  • Eating dinner at the same time every night at the same table.
  • Endless buffets of food that you get sick of after day two.
  • The hallways are so narrow that you have to walk single file.
  • The bathroom is so narrow that two people cannot enter at the same time.

But there is one thing that is the biggest difference of all.  We do not have use of our smart phones.  Even with adding an international plan and purchasing wifi from the ship, the connection is so bad and slow it is virtually worthless.

The kids all have their phones on airplane mode so they don’t break their parents bank.

The parents that came actually have various forms of minutes and plans, but we deemed them useless on day 2 of the cruise.

So how do we communicate?

How can we coordinate who is doing what when?  How do we know if the boys all came back on board before the ship sails away without them?

There are phones in the rooms and we could call each other, but who is sitting in their rooms?

All of this reminded me that it has really only been less than a decade that smart phones were created.

Before cell phones, texting and internet, how did we communicate?

My husband and I were discussing this.  There were several benefits to the pre-smartphone era:

  1. People kept their commitments.  You made plans in advance and kept your commitment because you couldn’t call or text to back out at the last minute.  You couldn’t change your mind about what restaurant to meet at or what time to have that project planning meeting.
  2. People dropped by to see you and make plans.  Sure you could pick up the regular landline phones and call, but many times you walked next door to say “hi” or to invite someone to dinner.
  3. People talked to each other more.  Whether that was sitting on the phone for hours catching up with a friend or planning to meet in person to socialize and hangout.  People need social interaction and without texting, snap chat, and facebook, they actually spent time with their friends and family.

Let’s imagine for a moment that our companies were back in a time without internet, email, and cell phones.  Would this really make us less competitive?  Would we be less efficient?

Maybe, but I would contend that the amount of time we spend on miscommunication through technology is pretty high.  The amount of emotional energy spent wondering what your boss meant on that 20 word text with no punctuation?

Obviously, without technology we wouldn’t be able to help people in other locations without flying or driving to that area, so having the technology has certainly enhanced global business.

However, just like everything else in excess, we gluttonize technology at the expense of better communication, deeper relationships, and improved understanding.

As small business owners, we would do well to:

  1. Walk down the hall in our offices and communicate face to face whenever possible.
  2. Make appointments and keep them in order to work face to face with others for enhanced communication and understanding.
  3. Call someone or meet someone to discuss any issues or problems rather than exacerbate the problem through a hurried email.
  4. Think in advance about what we want to say or work on in a meeting so we have more efficient and effective face time.
  5. Really get to know the people we work with through human interaction and collaboration.

I am a technology lover.  I have all of the latest gear.  However, being on this cruise, spending face to face time with the people we came with, and really focusing on being in the moment, has reminded me that relationships are an “in person” sort of thing.

It can’t be replaced by technology.

There is no better way to show the people you work with that you care about them and what they have to contribute.

Since I don’t have any reliable technology on this cruise ship, I need to run down to my son’s room right now and make sure he is getting ready for our next excursion.

What do you think?  Have we taken technology too far?

Reader Interactions


  1. Tom Gimbel says

    Balancing technology and human interaction today is like a tight-rope act. When dealing with coworkers and clients alike, it’s significantly more convenient to converse via email or phone. However, it’s hard to get a genuine sense of someone through an email! I’ve found that the real value of a relationship comes from in-person interaction. Face-to-face interaction, not email correspondence, is really what makes an employee or business stand out from the rest. I talk about more ways to create offline value on my blog:

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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