The Participation Blog

Stranger Danger

I was talking with one of our more experienced clients on the east coast the other day. She told me they’re encountering a consistent challenge with new hires, smart people often fresh out of school, who are really uncomfortable talking with folks beyond their own age bracket and out of their peer group, people that they don’t know or understand. It’s a circumstance that isn’t restricted only to new hires – quite a few introverts who have to do this work have similar issues. So instead of picking up a phone and calling, like our ancestors used to, or walking over to talk with them, many otherwise talented professionals are just a lot more comfortable with text, email or reluctantly, using online video – but then keeping their cameras off so they can remain kind of anonymous. Our hyper-electronic and virtual focus and the pandemic may have a lot to do with it, but it seems evident that fewer people have the fundamental skills or willingness to engage face to face with people. Doing this work isn’t all raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and, unfortunately, supervisors are having to push their employees into actual interpersonal conversations. It’s a skill that can and needs to grow