Technology is incredibly useful.

Technology enables my speaking business and training company to be 100 percent paperless. My to-do lists, meeting notes, brainstorms, client contracts, etc. are all digital. I leverage technology to my best ability to help automate, streamline, and deliver a better experience for my clients. In my opinion, technology offers more benefits than risks.

However, I recently had an experience that made me hyper-aware of the sinister role technology plays in eroding the human connection.

Recently, my wife and I were watching an emotionally-charged episode of the NBC hit TV series, This Is Us.

Halfway through the episode, I turned part of my attention to my phone to casually scroll my Instagram feed. A few minutes passed and I returned my full attention to This Is Us only to discover my wife was in tears over the episode and where a lump in my throat usually correlates with her tears...I was left completely emotionless.

I was able to follow the storyline of the episode while engrossed in my phone but my split attention robbed me of any emotional connection to the characters in the story.

An enlightening and humbling moment for a tech-appreciating and multi-device-wielding Millennial.

What's at stake when you check a device? Emotional intelligence.

Want to instantly boost your emotional intelligence? Resist dividing your attention.

This emotional disconnect can happen while checking a social feed during a TV show, checking email during a conference call, checking texts during a meeting, or scanning news headlines during training.

Allow a device to steal your valuable attention, and it will hinder your ability to...

  • connect and serve a customer
  • cultivate and nurture deep relationships with co-workers
  • establish and build trust and influence with a team

We never know what hangs in the balance for our frustrated staff, anxious co-workers, or frustrated customers if we aren't fully present with them.

For leaders and organizations battling against Generation Z's tech-dependency in the workplace, how technology negatively impacts our ability to establish human connections could be the compelling reason Generation Z needs to hear or experience themselves in order to put their devices away. Especially consider "human elements"--including more face-to-face communication--is what Generation Z wants most at work.

There is no slowing down technology or going back to a post-Internet world (why would anyone want to?). In the future, if we are good stewards, more technology will enable more human connection. For example, doctors will be able to rely on artificial intelligence to more accurately diagnose disease, freeing up doctors to deliver much-needed compassion and sympathy to patients.

Not only is heightened emotional intelligence a benefit of guarding against technology robbing your attention but enhanced creativity and innovation is also a benefit.

Constant engagement thwarts creativity.

The conscious human brain has access to the equivalent of about two feet of information around us. But the subconscious brain has access to the equivalent of about eleven acres of information around us which includes every book read, movie watched, or conversation had.

Intentionally disengaging from technology, can unlock the vast knowledge of the subconscious brain in order to solve a complex problem.

Technology is incredibly useful, yet not fulfilling.

Fulfillment isn't found on a device. Fulfillment is drawn from the actions or work that positively impacts another person.

Once we know what hangs in the balance of our attention, why would we ever intentionally choose scrolling over connecting?

Published on: Feb 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.