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May 01 2018
Is Social Media Influencing Your Interactions?
Shane Inglesby, CCE, Geneva Rock Products, Inc.

How are your interpersonal skills as you meet others face-to-face? Are you engaging? Do you develop a rapport with the other individual? Do you show a genuine interest in the person you are conversing with?

Social media has become the new frontier for making connections and staying in touch with what is going on in the world. Social media outlets allow for users' experiences to be customized to share and receive information from specific individuals, businesses and organizations. Once connections are made, depending upon the source, volumes of useful information can be shared.

Individuals and entities can share online as much or as little information as they would like. Frequent users of these social platforms can quickly tell you who either "overshares," keeps a constant stream of information, participates sporadically and those who simply observe yet choose not to share anything.

The parallels between what takes place online and what occurs when people interact on a personal basis can be eerily similar. Participating in social media demonstrates an understanding that digital interactions are truly one-sided and left to the discretion of the sharing party.

Rules of the world online should not carry over into daily personal interactions. Interpersonal, face-to-face conversations should build rapport and foster a sense of trust and belonging. Two-way conversation should be the priority. Genuine interest and concern for the other participant should prevail.

However, many conversations today tend to mirror an individuals approach online. Conversations tend to be "me-focused." It's as though participants sense a very limited window of opportunity for the interaction. As a result, they focus strictly upon themselves because time is limited. Little, if no, effort is made to check-in with what is taking place in the world of the person on the other side of the "visit."

This selfish approach to an interaction limits possibilities for nurturing a relationship that otherwise could be full of potential and opportunities. One-sided conversations communicate the listening party is not valued or appreciated. His/her thoughts, observations or experiences are discounted because the person dominating the conversation doesn't recognize the importance of the listener.

Investing and engaging in two-way conversation allows all participants to connect and share insights that, otherwise, may have gone unexplored. Never underestimate the value someone can bring to a conversation. Even if there may be no immediate insights offered, the value of having invested time in the relationship can deliver great dividends at a later time. Such interactions will encourage future conversations that will allow the relationship to grow and be mutually beneficial.

Monitor your conversations. If you have not asked someone you are conversing with about what is taking place in their world, you can easily be perceived as self-absorbed and lacking in ability to engage in a meaningful, productive conversation.

When you visit, recognize the importance of listening. To listen, sometimes you need to ask a question. Greater knowledge can only be acquired through seeking further knowledge, insights and wisdom of others.

Social media has its place, but it should not be the standard bearer for developing and enhancing quality human interactions. Show an interest, be quiet and listen. You may be surprised at what you will learn.