Digital natives, the term used for Millennials and the follow-on generations, are at grave risk from the very technology they’ve so thoroughly embraced.
New research finds that this reliance on emails, texts, and similar impersonal tools has removed the non-verbal component from how these generations communicate. However, as readers of this blog are aware, however, the bulk of every single human interaction is nonverbal.
Devoid of all the subtle nuances that comprise effective communications, digital natives are left with nothing but emotionless words. Given decades of research demonstrating that at least 60% of every message is nonverbal, digital natives are at risk to experiencing lives of institutionalized miscommunication.
This news alone is startling, but more devastating is the second key finding of this latest study. Absent the emotional (i.e., nonverbal) component of their cyber interactions, the digitals‘ brains are being rewired to process communications in a reason-based fashion. Thus, communication is reduced to mathematical equations wherein “word+word+word=irrefutable fact.”
Sadly, the rest of the world does not think and act based exclusively on logic and reason. Emotion is, and always will be, at the heart of every decision made by non-digital natives. This puts natives in a significant disadvantage whenever they interact face-to-face. Inexperienced at reading body language and the other theatrics of language, their failure rate in analyzing and interpreting others’ actions or negotiating favorable outcomes is stunning.
Predictably, this discomfort and unfamiliarity with F2F communications leads some digitals to retreat back into their comfort zone of technology-based tools. This response, however, can send the digital into a communications death spiral and increasingly deep personal and professional isolation.
Fortunately, the digitals can be saved, but only if older generations intervene. Non-digital natives need to teach the younger generations about nonverbal communication, the emotional roots of being human, behavioral cues, statement analysis, and so forth. Its not to late to save them – but their personal and professional futures require our immediate assistance.