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  • Patrick Pruett

Technology Is No Substitute For Relationship

Parts of my family live in New Zealand and Australia so opportunities to be with them are few and far between. In fact, it is often years in between visits with some family members. So we have become big Zoom users, which as far as I’m concerned is one of the most wonderful inventions of the current generation. The ability to see and talk with each other helps bridge the Pacific Ocean so that 10,000 miles does not seem so far.


Choosing technology is an easy decision and it makes good sense to use phones, computers, and even televisions as primary communication tools. Technology has the capacity to improve the way we connect, train, and virtually relate to one another, and that is just today. Tomorrow’s world promises many more and better forms of technology to allow people to communicate in a variety of powerful and impactful ways.


Technology speeds up processes, brings people together when distance is a problem, is efficient, and it is very affordable. Often, we do not leverage it enough, as computers, programs, and other applications have incredible potential power that often goes unused due to a lack of understanding or stubborn attitude toward change.


Still, as awesome as it is to see and talk to family, take part in distance learning, and communicate in new ways, there is nothing that can replace our being together, physically. To embrace, shake hands, and share meals together is what we truly want to do as these things really deepen the relationship and keep us connected in a unique way that a computer screen or image cannot. No level of sophisticated technology provides that type of feeling and as social animals we all need and desire physical connectivity.


It seems somewhat of a paradox that when I rarely see someone it can be more difficult to sustain a conversation and yet you may think there would be so many things to say to each other. On the other hand, the more I see a person the greater the connection and better the flow of conversation with them. We have more in common with recent, shared experiences and an understanding of each other’s life, work situation, and possibly even family.


It is wonderful to see the impact of professional relationships through our work. When professionals of diverse backgrounds are regularly spending time with each other, there is a much greater chance that they will do business together and share each other’s resources. The amount of trust rises between these individuals, they are more invested in each other’s business, and generally they become more successful.


Yet, nothing is free, and in every relationship, there comes a time when investment has to happen, otherwise it will fade. Clients who never see you as their accountant outside of tax season eventually begin to wonder how much value they are receiving and how much you really care about their business success. Likewise, peers who have come to value and appreciate the relationship they have with you, need to reconnect consistently or other relationships will begin to fill the void.


Technology is an enabler in business and not a substitute for relationships, especially when you are working among other professionals. Zoom, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (and all the rest) are terrific for allowing greater communication opportunities, however they provide a only base level of understanding of people. There is no widget to see and hold in a service environment; only services to witness, feel, and value.


Interacting with people is not always easy. Quality relationships come with a price tag. It takes time and effort to make people feel important, especially when it would be much easier to do nothing and expect people to stay close and loyal. However, consider an alternative whereby quality relationships, ideas, and information no longer exist.


In a professional relationship, you and your team are the differentiators, and the interactions you have and plan to have are a powerful tool at your disposal. Take the time and make the investment to build and deepen connections with people.


There is no way to place a price tag on spending time with people. Someone once said, “the most important things in life, are not things.” Take stock in all the accomplishments and successes in your life. Who are the people connected to those successes and how did they come to care enough to be able to make a difference? …They invested in you and you in them.

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