The divide between virtual and live blurs more and more every day. Anyone not finding ways to take advantage of this will get left behind. At the same time, anyone not finding ways to milk moments of live, face-to-face interactions for every ounce of relationship-building potential will become increasingly isolated. Holidays provide such moments. Milk them.
I met Stacy Katz at the recent HATCH Experience. She and Maximina Revis have created a card game to do just this. She told me how they got the idea when they were
"Fed up with the current state of "Screen Zombies" -- that moment where kids can't hear you, forget to eat, suddenly can't find the power off button, and get really, REALLY grouchy.
The problem is real. In its 2013 policy statement on "Children, Adolescents, and the Media," the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that
The average 8 to 10 year old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.
Stacy and Maximina thought getting kids to turn off their screens and interact with other human beings required a game that was uncomplicated, "snack-able" and felt naughty.
- Uncomplicated - The game requires no board, few pieces and no skills. Kids can "learn the rules in 20 seconds".
- Snack-able - It's easy to in and out of so you can play a few rounds, go away and come back later.
- Naughty - Game participants play PG rated answer cards on question cards. For example, they might fill in the blank to "Dear substitute teacher could you stop __________?" with "spewing vomit chunks", "picking your nose and wiping it on your pants" or "the unmistakable aroma of stinky pants".
Kids seem to love this game and it's already won three awards for Holiday 2016: a National Parenting Product Award, Tillywig Award for "Best Family Fun" and Dr. Toy's 100 Best Children's Products Award
If you're looking for a tool to help you interact live with your tween kids this holiday season, Not Parent Approved, could be what you're looking for.
Application to "Screen Zombies" at work
The blurring between virtual and live is even more pronounced at work. Technologies like writing, radio, telephones, television, and the Internet have altered millions of years of human communication norms in an evolutionary blink of an eye. Humans evolved to hunt in pairs, but now we're communicating across smart phone screens.
The advantages are previously unimaginable efficiency and productivity. Those come with a fundamental disruption in the way we communicate and relate to each other. If 10% of communication is words, 35% tone and 55% body language, the words in an email have to work 10 times as hard as they do in a face-to-face interaction.
Applying some of this thinking to the workplace can help by making at least some of your interactions less complicated, easier to get in and out of and naughtier.
As face-to-face meetings become less frequent they become more important and more complicated. People try to jam more things into fewer meetings. Agendas get packed and there's less time for each item. This requires more efficient meetings in which people get down to business faster and tick things off the list. What gets sacrificed is time for relationship building, which is the most important outcome of face-to-face meetings. Do fewer things better.
Take advantage of the blurring of virtual and live so that the people that are not in face-to-face meetings know what happened in them. This way they can drop in to snack on parts of the meeting or a few of the meetings and get the most out of the bits they bite off.
If you hold everyone to the highest standards of political correctness at all times, you will squeeze out their personalities, honesty and creativity. Give them time and space to be a little naughty occasionally.