Frequently focus on your handheld device? You may be sending unintentional messages.

September 14, 2018 | The times keep a-changing Rowena Crosbie, President, Tero International,

Q: Can technology negatively impact the way we interact in business?

A: An employee engagement survey revealed a significant trust deficit between employees and their senior leaders. To analyze the situation, a consulting group was brought in.

Expecting to hear sordid details of breaches of trust in the final report, the CEO couldn’t believe his ears when he discovered the focus of much of the feedback applied to him and the messages he was communicating daily — messages of being unapproachable and uninterested in his employees.

Needless to say, that was not his intention. He sincerely valued all the employees.

What did the report highlight as the crime he was guilty of perpetrating? His attention was frequently focused on his handheld device. The technology received the benefits of his eye contact rather than him using his eye contact to nonverbally greet employees as he passed them in the hallway or interacted with them in meetings. The message was surprising. The message was powerful.

In today’s world, with today’s technology, eye contact with devices is more prevalent than eye contact with people. The message this sends can be destructive: “I have more important things to attend to than you.” By resisting the temptation to look at your device, you’re communicating respect.

We can be confident that there are more technological advances on the horizon. This may be good news for organizational efficiencies and bad news for leaders who count on people to deliver competitive advantage. The new technologies that are changing the way we do business may also be leading to an increase in social awkwardness and a deficit of trust.

What percentage of your attention is engaged with technology instead of with the people around you?