The Glue & the Oil: Relational Priority in a Digital World

In a culture where people stand in line for the release of the newest technology, the more apps and devices we create, the more important relationships become. Technology can make transactional work easier and more efficient, but it is no substitute for the human connection. In fact, technology can and should be a means of making that connection easier, not become a substitute for it.

Andrew Duda, the founder of A. Duda & Sons, came to America from Slovakia in 1909. He left his wife and three sons behind, until he could get established, so that together they could pursue his dream of owning land and guiding his own destiny.

Three years later, he was leaving the general store in Oviedo and as he walked along the dirt road, a horse-drawn carriage arrived in town with his wife and three children on board. He was totally unprepared for their arrival, though his wife had sent a telegram three weeks earlier. The telegram arrived on the same carriage.

In the last hundred years, the speed of  transcontinental messages has moved from weeks to less than a second. Though technology changed, the importance of the relationship between Andrew Duda and his family then and the relationships that form the foundation of A. Duda & Sons, Inc. now, haven’t, nor should, change relational priority.

There is No Substitute

An unfortunate consequence of a generation whose interpersonal skills are based primarily in modern technology is that actual communication skills are eroding almost as fast as handwriting.

What every business executive understands, and surveys by leading staffing agencies worldwide confirm, is that the No. 1 job skill needed by businesses is high-quality sales skills and salespeople. Great salespeople understand relational priority.  A device can help you be more efficient, but it cannot be a substitute for the face-to-face meeting and developing a genuine understanding and concern for someone.

In the transactional, consultative and relational sales process, only the “transactional process” can be successfully completed through the digital environment. The relational element has fundamentally gone unchanged for two thousand years.

Technology also affords certain behaviors, which lie dormant in all of us, to be awakened in some like “Mr. Hyde,” with the autonomy of social media. Anyone can become an unaccountable and documentable critic or slanderer, with seeming impunity and malignant affect. Virtual abuse and digital retaliation are replacing the uncomfortable, but much more effective and reasonable, face-to-face confrontation and dialogue.

Or consider online dating or matchmaking sites. The speed and scope of interest and connections made through these platforms is remarkable in efficiently moving through the selection process.  However, ultimately it requires a face-to-face relational meeting in order to advance to a level of any true value.

The Special Ingredient

Many managers or business owners believe that a pay raise is what every employee wants, when in fact, pay scale is often third or fourth on the list. Employees want to know they are valued and recognized for the good job they do – to know that they are contributing to the team and are important enough to get the time and mentoring of more senior staff.

Basically, a relational priority focuses on what is right about the individual and demonstrates tolerance for their weaknesses. A marriage only survives through this formula since there are no perfect human beings. Love emphasizes a person’s strengths and tolerates their weaknesses.

It is like the old adage, “People don’t care how much you know; they just want to know how much you care.” This is because there is an inherent sense of worth or value in every human being. Even when someone has low self-esteem or a poor self-image, their deepest need and heartfelt desire is for someone to care enough to prove them wrong.

Avoid the tendency and convenience of making technology your primary relationship tool. It is meant for sharing of information. Real relationships are built the old fashioned way and they are the glue that holds us together and the oil that keeps friction from melting us down.

John Naisbitt said almost 20 years ago when he first published “MegaTrends,” “Whenever a new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response – that is, high touch – or the technology is rejected. We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature.”

Jeff_PiersallAbout the Author

Jeff Piersall is co-founder and CEO of SCB Marketing, which publishes i4 Business and SpaceCoast Business magazines.  Contact him at (321) 537-4941 orjeff@scbmarketing.com