Are You “Social” In Real Life?

Picture these scenes:

You’re stopped at a red light and the pedestrians crossing in front are intently texting on their smart phones, unaware of people, traffic and things around them. One person trips on the curb.areyousocial

You’re in a coffee shop where people are absorbed by the screens of their laptops, and don’t even look up when a tray clatters to the floor.

You’re at a luncheon and your lunch dates are constantly peering at their phones, anticipating incoming messages and looking stressed and fidgety when nothing’s coming in.

You get the picture.

Call it old-fashioned, out-of-date or not-with-the program, but I’m on a mission to bring “social” back to real life.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the tools of social media. They’ve brought so many new friends into my world, connected me with invaluable lessons and information,  broadened my perspective and enriched my life.

BUT…I’m not plugged into them 24/7.  AND…I still believe in good manners.

Here’s my manifesto:

I will not walk and text.  I will actually look at people, smile at them and nod or say a hello.

I will regularly look up from my laptop at the coffee shop, observe what’s going on around me and be of assistance wherever possible (like helping pick up the tray that somebody dropped, or helping someone who’s struggling with their parcels)

I will NOT have my phone on the table when I’m joining people for lunch.

I will remember at all times that “people in person” can be offended, overlooked and ignored, and opportunities will be missed when I’m engaged on tools, to the exclusion of awareness of the people, places and things around me.

And, as always, I will continue to:

  • Make eye contact with people – on the subway, while walking down the street, in line at the store, on the escalator, and I will smile and nod.
  • Be helpful.  Open a door for someone, or hold it open for the person behind me (yes, even if it takes a precious extra minute out of my day:)
  • Engage in chit-chat, conversation, smiles and laughter with strangers, when opportunities arise.
  • Be open, aware, kind, courteous and respectful of the people around me, and strive to do whatever I can to interact, engage and bring a little smile to their day.

These things are not profound, but they are profoundly missing in many public and social settings that I encounter.  I know that young people say “that’s just the way it is. It’s the way we’ve grown up. It’s how we communicate and behave.”  I get that.  But if I can, by my behaviour, demonstrate another way…communicating and behaving in a way that engages more fully those people who are physically in my presence and sphere of influence, well…that’s what I’m gonna’ do.  Maybe it will rub off.

This post has been republished with permission from Kaarina Dillabough

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Kaarina Dillabough

Kaarina Dillabough

Business Life Coach at Decide2Do
Kaarina is a business/life coach living in Ontario. For over 25 years her high-voltage energy, expertise and experience has inspired those she has worked with to reach beyond their grasp, to attain great things in business and in life. A former Olympic sports colour commentator and coach, Kaarina parlayed her coaching skills from the gym floor to the boardroom, working with business owners to improve their profitability and prosperity. In doing so, she has seen people grow both personally and professionally. Kaarina is known as an inspiring motivational speaker in areas such as branding, marketing, business growth strategies, and personal growth and prosperity. She is a passionate, seasoned coach and accountability partner with a proven track record, who loves nothing more than helping people achieve their goals in business and in life.
Kaarina Dillabough
Kaarina Dillabough

Comments

comments

19 Comments

  • January 24, 2014

    Mark_Harai

    Hi, Kaarina – you always share life-enriching tips that inspire good in people. Being aware of those around you requires that you step out of you own ‘little-world’ and see the big one that’s all around you. It puts in a position of leadership and service. You always inspire me – thank you for that. Cheers to you and your work, miss : )

  • January 24, 2014

    AliRodriguez

    Timely post Kaarina.  It seems folks are more digitally engaged than ever thus ignoring the value of being socially connected, for real and not virtually.  Your thoughts and insights are priceless.  I always encourage people not to trade a short walk in the park for hours behind the screen of a digital gadget.  Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the real world.

  • January 24, 2014

    KDillabough

    Mark_Harai Thanks so much my friend: that emboldens me further to take the next step on the path I’m on. Not a change in direction…I’ll call it a refinement that I hope will continue to inspire. Stay tuned:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • January 24, 2014

    KDillabough

    AliRodriguez I appreciate your kind words Ali, and this comment too helps me as I “refine” the direction I’m taking with my business (as I mentioned to Mark below). Not a change, just a shift that I’m quite jazzed about. Cheers! Kaarina

  • January 24, 2014

    Mark_Harai

    KDillabough Mark_Harai I’m always available to support your work – just make sure you ping me when you publish : )

  • January 24, 2014

    AliRodriguez

    KDillaboughAliRodriguez- You are on a roll!

  • January 24, 2014

    KDillabough

    Mark_Harai Thanks so much Mark: you have always been there for me 🙂

  • January 24, 2014

    KDillabough

    AliRodriguez I appreciate your support Ali 🙂

  • January 24, 2014

    AlaskaChickBlog

    Kaarina! You are once again, speaking directly to my heart. I do not believe that today’s technology should eliminate or even slightly alter plain old good manners. If we are going to share this big chunk of green and blue, than we ought to look around ourselves and take a moment (yes, that very precious moment) to be kind. Kindness. A smile, a “hello”, a helping hand holding the door, picking up that dropped paper from the stack  … these are all kindnesses and they make a difference! Being “connected” to our online worlds does not mean that we shouldn’t HAVE to be kind, courteous, attentive or polite. Thank you for this, Kaarina.

  • January 24, 2014

    CASUDI

    I left a long comment earlier today but somehow it didn’t take. Part of my comment focused on the difficulty of doing “social” and business in Asia where the cell phone takes priority over the “live” it seems in just about every “social” dinner  or business meeting. Somehow one has to work around the culture, but I just wish I could send this post to the worst culprits and get the them to understand the points you make so well here. The worst of it that it’s hard to keep continuity when you are playing second fiddle to an electronic device.

  • January 24, 2014

    Jen Olney

    CASUDII checked the admin and this is the only comment that was on this post, Casudi. Sorry if there was a hiccup on your end. There are different customs all over the world, however, to Kaarina’s points – we need to stop using  technology when we are with folks face to face – put down the phone and relate with people in person. I agree with Kaarina’s mission – the more we allow ourselves to be distracted by technology the less we relate to other in social situations.

  • January 24, 2014

    CASUDI

    Jen Olney So agree, but how to get this across in Asia? One way is of course to schedule all meetings where there is no WiFi 🙂 ~ no worries on the comment, I’m not sure I even posted it, but somehow I must have deleted it inadvertantly (or so it seems)

  • January 25, 2014

    KDillabough

    AlaskaChickBlog I look forward to the day that we meet in person my friend:) Thanks!

  • January 25, 2014

    KDillabough

    CASUDI Jen Olney  You make a strong point about cultural differences, and of course, we are best to observe cultural differences in whatever form they take. I know when I was in Japan, it was standard practice for the men to walk ahead of the women, regardless of their job role. Different colours mean different things in different countries. Social norms vary. These are definitely all things that we need to consider when conducting business, but I believe there is a huge difference between cultural norms and good manners, polite consideration and being “present”.

    I’m so with you on the frustration of playing “second fiddle” to electronic devices. It’s definitely a challenge, but I’m well known for asking people to be present when meeting in person, whether that be a social or business event. Doesn’t always make me popular, but that’s how I roll:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • January 25, 2014

    Jen Olney

    KDillaboughCASUDIJen Olney Agreed Kaarina. Being polite shouldn’t be cultural – that to me is being human. Before technology existed did people in Asia ignore each other?

  • January 28, 2014

    CASUDI

    Jen Olney KDillabough  I did not feel qualified to answer this so I asked two people who were. One American who has done business in Asia for over a decade and another Asian-American who was born in Asia (with western upbringing and education) who has done business in Asia even in the old days when it was pretty closed to Western business and well before digital devises. 
    The answer was YES, they did ignore before digital devises. It’s part of the culture! In the old days business meetings were interrupted by a messenger with a note, calling the person you were discussing business away, never to return to the scheduled meeting and often hard to pin down again for days or weeks!  In fact my contact said it’s better today at least you have a chance of continuing the meeting after a digital interruption, rude as those from the West think it is. In China this is considered the norm, and no one but us westerners take exception to it. I personally find it difficult to have a productive meeting with multiple interruptions, but we learn to work around it and live with it.

  • January 28, 2014

    AliRodriguez

    CASUDIJen Olney KDillabough- That is quite a revelation.  Thanks for digging deeper, Caroline.

  • January 28, 2014

    Jen Olney

    CASUDIKDillabough Interesting, thanks Casudi for researching that out….

  • January 28, 2014

    KDillabough

    CASUDI Jen Olney This doesn’t surprise me. As I travelled with Olympic teams, a large part of our preparation was to understand as best as possible the social mores and cultural norms of the countries we visited. So yes…understanding and accepting those is important if we want to conduct business or be respected in the countries we visit or do business with. But there’s definitely a difference between cultural norms and plain ol’ manners. Even when we’re a visitor in another country, we know when it’s cultural and we know when it’s just plain rudeness.

    And you’re so right Casudi: when we’re the visitor, we learn to accept and/or understand, and work through and around it.