When we think about the future of negotiation and communication, it’s crucial to turn our attention to experts like Kasia Jagodzinska. With a remarkable resume that includes international negotiation expertise, authorship of several negotiation books, specialization in multi-party international and intercultural negotiations, a professorship in Switzerland, and a thriving career as a business consultant and executive coach, Kasia is a leading authority in her field. In this article, we delve into her insights on the impact of technology on communication and the future of human interaction.
The Myth of Multitasking: A Threat to Paying Attention
Kasia emphasizes that one of the most significant challenges in modern communication is the myth of multitasking. Our increasing reliance on technology has taught us the habit of splitting our attention between various tasks, resulting in a diminished ability to focus on the person right in front of us. In airports and public spaces, it’s become all too common to see everyone engrossed in their mobile devices, oblivious to the people around them. This trend is alarming as it erodes our social observation skills, interpersonal abilities, and emotional intelligence.
With many companies implementing artificial intelligence (AI) in their business communications, Kasia underscores that AI can never fully replace genuine human interaction, in our business or personal lives. While technology can streamline certain processes, it falls short when it comes to the depth and richness of human-to-human engagement, an essential part of effective relationship-building. Whether we realize it or not, these interactions often involve emotion, psychology, understanding and trust. Because of this, it’s important to prioritize real human interaction as often as possible.
Barriers to Natural Human Interaction in Screen Time
Kasia elaborated on the concept of diminished social observation. Social observation refers to the ability to perceive and understand subtle signals and cues from others. However, our addiction to screens and technology hampers our social observation skills. When we’re engrossed in our devices, we miss out on vital non-verbal communication, leading to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
Kasia points out that paying attention is not a skill that can be developed on the spot. It’s a habit that society is gradually losing due to the constant interaction with emotionless screens that fail to provide feedback, teach social cues, or encourage genuine connections. These interpersonal skills are built over time, and if we neglect them, they will wane.
She reflects on how people used to gather around tables or fires, fostering feelings of safety and connection. These gatherings allowed individuals to learn from one another, a tradition that is slowly fading. The prevalence of screens, social media masks, and the pursuit of perfection can create false identity and lead to feelings of inadequacy, ultimately closing the communication loop.
Kasia stresses that while we’ve taught people a lot about technology and tactical skills, we have neglected to teach them how to be authentic humans. She uses the example of her father’s generation, which engaged in natural physical activities, contrasting it with today’s focus on structured gym workouts. While she doesn’t discourage going to the gym, or the use of technology, she emphasizes the importance of not overcomplicating natural human interactions.
She also touched on the way language and messages become abbreviated in digital communication where we often use emojis and shortcuts to express emotions. While we understand the intended meaning behind these messages, others may not. For example, you could have a small group of individuals and they all might use a different emoji to express happiness, to varying degrees. Additionally, through this abbreviated communication we may also be unintentionally narrowing our own ability to express emotions clearly.
The Role of Time and Urgency in Communication
Advancements in technology have also helped create a culture that values speed and instant gratification. Taking this into consideration, Kasia highlights the importance of recognizing that building trust and meaningful connections takes time. While speed and brevity can be advantageous in business, they can serve as barriers to developing long-term meaningful relationships.
For those looking to improve connection or move at a slower pace, Kasia has advice for interacting with a person who’s in a rush or doesn’t value time in the same way: get curious.
Instead of reacting negatively to their haste, inquire about the reasons behind their urgency. Is it a tactic, a block, a power play, or an objective time limitation? This curiosity can open up valuable insights and allow for a more constructive dialogue.
Kasia’s insights are not designed to encourage humans to abandon the use of technology. Rather, she encourages listeners to be aware of what we may lose if we exploit its benefits without moderation. Human-to-human connection is a precious and irreplaceable aspect of our lives, one that we must nurture and prioritize in the ever-evolving landscape of technology and communication.