Checking messages while you are with someone else, techno rudeness and body langauge.

I am rarely cynical in my blogs, In fact, I have been called a Pollyanna optimist many times. I also am truly blessed with the most incredible friends on the plane but if you have read my blog you know that. I say all this before I share a cynical story about a wonderful. I know it doesn't take me off the hook, but it does give the story a bit of build up..
So I am out with a friend for lunch the other day. A friend I have not seen for month I might add and five minutes after we sit down for lunch she is checking her Blackberry for messages from the guy friend she just had her real lunch with. ( She apologizes for eating ahead of our lunch she said she would have dessert with me. ) She continued to check her blackberry throughout lunch. I love my friend very much she is an amazing woman, but she is so brilliant her mind needs to be occupied at all times. So she often goes into what I call the techno haze. For me the unspoken subtext of checking text messages in front of friends is: "Somewhere else there is someone who I care about more than you. I want to know what they have to say more than what you have to say to me now." The idea of being present in the moment is disappearing faster than you can say, "Hey, I've got to take this call..." We stop being in the moment. We stop being present wit each other. We devalue our current situation, the friends and family around us, our surroundings and setting, for something going on somewhere else. Somewhere that seems far more interesting that what is right their in front of them.
I see it when I go into speak to an audience now and it makes me crazy. Audience's use to talk and interact with each other before the program started. I am not sure, but I think that is why people have meetings and conventions so people can share ideas and experiences, with the people in the room. Now everyone heads are down. People don't have their hearts open they have their laptops open. They don't shake hands they do hip checks of the blackberry's. They don't lean into their seat mate to say hello, they pull out their cell phone to take a call. They are not connecting to the people in the room they are somewhere else. Certainly they don't look like they are in that room to learn. I am so glad that I teach what I do the way I do. I have my audience's up out of their chairs right away, now I realize that if they have any gadgets they would fall off in the first audience interaction exercise. What do you think about the techno haze?

banking, benifits of face to face human interaction, body language and banking

Today a journalist ask me if I still did my banking face to face. Here is my answer.

Since I opened my first bank account at 11, I have preferred to go into the bank and make my deposits and withdrawals. At 50 I still don’t use the bank machines to withdrawal cash. I don’t want to be known by my back account number and I don’t want to interact with a machine.
For over 20 years I knew all the cashiers’ by name and they new mine. When I came in we would visit for a minute would ask me how my last trip was, because they knew I fly out of town every week to speak and I would ask about their day and their family. Now that my bank has been bought a few times I know only know one teller. It is still worth to go in because she smiles and says my name and I smile back and we laugh about the fact that the two of us are always in a good mood. It makes my day.
I am a body language expert. Human interaction feeds us. It is sustenance. The smile, the eye contact of recognition, the light touch of hands across the counter, insures us we are seen, are known, that we exists. Each face to face interaction makes our lives rich. It also feeds the brain. If you have been reading my blogs or getting my newsletter you know that I love neuroscience and often talk about the brain body connection. Here is link to a website that discusses the research of Dr. Thomas Lewis who does research on face to face interaction and the brain.
"Part of the issue they've discovered in research is just how crucial the immediate response is. In still-face effect experiments with infants, for example, they learned that babies become immediately distressed when their mother maintains a "still face" that does not show any response/feedback with what the baby is doing. This makes sense, but what's really interesting is when they experimented with video. In some of these variations on the still-face effect, mothers and babies were on closed-circuit monitors where they could each see each other in real-time, through a television monitor. The babies were much happier when their mother's face was responsive to their own... less distressed than when the mother was right in front of the baby but maintaining a still face!
So, it was the responsiveness that mattered as well as the visual information. But just how quick does the feedback/response need to be? When they took the same experiment but introduced a short delay (I can't recall the amount -- but it was less than a few seconds), the babies became distressed again. Even a small degree of latency killed the feedback/interaction/responsiveness the baby's brains were expecting and needing.
Of course, we're adults, and not babies, but again--Dr. Lewis pointed out that we still have the same basic neurochemistry, and that no matter how much we practice communicating through text, the brain still finds it stressful. He indicated that the only population whose lives have improved through the use of text over face-to-face are those with a serious problem of shyness. In the brains of the shy, he said, a previously unknown face triggers a fear or anxiety response in their amygdala which doesn't happen in text.
He said that video chat is better than any other form of non face-to-face, because you get facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, AND real-time responsiveness. But--he said there's still a very unsettling feature for the brain because there's really no way for BOTH speakers to make eye contact! If you look at the camera, then the other person sees you looking at them, but then your experience suffers. So you can either watch the person you're chatting with which helps your experience but causes theirs to suffer (since you won't be looking into the camera, so to THEM you'll be looking down), OR you can look in the camera and improve their experience. But there's no way to have the camera right in your face, in a place where you can still look into the other person's eyes. Bottom line: You can see the camera or the person's eyes... but not both.
And even with the benefits of adding video to your chat, there's still a lot the scientists don't know about other factors surrounding human communication that can't be captured electronically. Smell, for example, might be far more powerful than we realize--even when below our conscious awareness.