Touch of a mouse versus the personal touch

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Nancy Bozzer, 350th Air Refueling Squadron commander
  • and Senior Airman Treat Lucas, 350th Air Refueling Squadron
In our day and age we have seen many great advances in technology.

We are able to replace people with computers for some of the most menial tasks and replace hours of brain storming with supercomputers. We can talk to someone half way around the world on a telephone that isn't even plugged into a wall jack.

The internet allows us to learn and send a lot of information to a number of people all over the world in a blink of an eye.

With all this technology, the question is, where does the touch of our mouse end and our personal touch begin? Is it possible that we have allowed technology to do some of the things that maybe we should do ourselves?

How many times have you been speaking with someone and their phone rings or buzzes and they reach for it without thinking and check it while you are in mid-sentence? How many times have you been surrounded by a group of people that are texting instead of talking?

Is this the new method of networking? With our heads buried in the phone, what are we missing?

We are missing the human aspect of connecting with others. We are missing being able to read body language during a conversation, making someone's day by shaking their hand or patting them on the back. We are missing the efficiency of working through problems face to face instead we are creating bigger ones by trying to interpret people's thoughts and meaning through their e-mails. We are missing the opportunity to get to know someone on a more personal level, because we didn't take the time to reach out and speak face to face with them.

We as humans, by our very nature, are social creatures and need to have a physical connection. It is that desire for a physical connection with people that drives us to be better leaders, make friends, or try to find that special someone to spend our life with.

A perfect example of the effectiveness of the physical connection is our presidential candidates' method of campaigning. Despite the technology they exploit, such as Internet blogs, chat forums and Web sites, they were always out in front of and next to the people whose support they were trying to win.

One thing you always saw them doing was actually greeting people with a kind word and a handshake. In one swooping motion they are establishing physical contact and looking people in the eye.

The reason they do this is because it is much easier to trust someone you have actually met rather than someone you have only seen on television.

This same theory holds true with leadership. If a boss is always around and working alongside people, they are more apt to listen because they know them on a more personal level and made that connection with them.

So the next time a telephone rings and you are already engaged in a face-to-face conversation, do yourself a favor, and let it ring. Give the person in front in you the courtesy of finishing the conversation and then tend to your business.

As leaders, the next time you want to congratulate your Airman, instead of writing the e-mail, go find them and shake their hand. Surprise your peers and visit them in their office and discuss the issues.

Simply put, technology is a wonderful thing and maybe an e-mail is needed, or a telephone call is welcomed. However, don't forget that a touch of the mouse or remote can never beat a personal touch.