Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cell Phones. Laptops. Social Networking. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It.

It inevitably happens in every one of my classes.


At some point in the 12-week program, one or more participants will ask me, “So now I got these ‘tools’ that I can use when I’m working with people. So what? What else can I do with them?”

Sometimes I hear, “My boss sent me to this class because he thought it might help. But I never meet anybody. I sit behind a desk all of the time looking at a computer.”

And of course, there is my personal favorite I hear when I sell the program, “Dale Carnegie is old school. That stuff is outdated. It worked in the last century. We need something new today.”

I find this last one is particularly interesting because I firmly believe that it’s a monster of our own making.

Yes, Dale Carnegie the man started doing his classes back in 1912 and yes the book How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1936. Ninety-six years and going strong. That’s a run to be proud of, for sure. But when I see catalogs that say, “It’s time to replace screen time with face time” it just underscores the belief that we are in a battle against the inexorable march of progress.

Today, people use all sorts of technology to communicate with each other, including computers. But the computer of the 80’s and 90’s is not the same computer we use today, if it can truly be called a computer at all. Back in those days, people used computers to write programs that crunched numbers. The user was truly isolated from everyone and everything else.

Today, people use “laptops” and they use their laptops to make phone calls, play music, create and watch movies, watch television, go shopping, create photo albums, read books and online newspapers, send and receive mail, instant message their friends, join online networks, share music, sell their stuff, conduct presentations, hold meetings, attend classes…

Oh, and sometimes they may even write a program to crunch numbers.

Today, the laptop is one of our primary tools for connecting with other people. However, we still need to understand how to communicate and navigate human relationships, and we need to do this in addition to being skillful in using the technology instead of at its expense.

The Dale Carnegie principles apply to how people interact and communicate with each other. Of course, back in the early 1900s, the only way to do this was in a face to face meeting. Today, however, we have a variety of ways to get our message to other people in addition to face to face meetings, and tomorrow, there will be even more.

Personally, I’m holding out for the holographic generator. I think I’ll be waiting for a couple of years.

We are human beings. We communicate with each other. It’s in our nature.

Today's technology is a fantastic enabler allowing us to do what we do over vast distances, almost instantaneously.

We don’t have to make a tradeoff, especially with the tech that we have today.

So to think that the Dale Carnegie principles are outdated or have no place in today’s tech obsessed society is a misconception. These principles are just as applicable today as they were back in the early 1900s, 1800s, and before. Believing that we have to sacrifice one to use the other is an indication that we, in the training industry, have not done our job in integrating the two, giving our knowledge workers of today a chance to be more productive tomorrow.

So get ready as the team at Tyson Eppley Management begins to explore various ways to integrate the principles that Dale Carnegie compiled back in 1912 with technological advances of today and tomorrow.

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