We are in an age where our social skills are under threat. The extent and ways in which we interact and communicate with people, is completely different to twenty years ago, or even five years ago for that matter. The need for face to face interaction is on the decline, largely due to technology. We are less and less required to interact with people as part of our day to day lives.
For example, it is no longer necessary to physically enter a bank to transfer or withdraw money, transactions can be completed by the click of a button. We can shop from the comfort of our own home, even our weekly grocery shop can be done online and delivered to our door. Even on those occasions when we do visit a supermarket, we can chose to skip the human interaction and self-serve. We send a text message instead of making a phone call, write an email instead of having a conversation and post our holiday snaps on facebook instead of verbally sharing our stories with friends.
This reduced need to communicate begins at a young age. Children are spending less time playing with other children and more time looking at a screen. Often they are more equipped to navigate the internet and interact through a computer, than person to person.
With the decreasing need for us to communicate with others on a face to face basis, the social skills we use to do so, aren’t being practiced and as a result decline or, never fully develop to begin with.
We are seeing the effects of this in the workplace, particularly in sales and customer service, an industry where social skills are vital. Staff struggle with the very basics of communication. Making eye contact is a challenge, let alone having a genuine conversation with a customer or other staff.
Unfortunately workplace training, rarely covers such basics, preferring to focus on work related processes and procedures. There is dire need however, to provide people with skills in areas such as body language, tone of voice and eye contact.
We can no longer assume every person we hire, has the level of skill required to interact with others sufficiently. It must be included in our inductions and training for all employees before we let them loose within the workplace, let alone on your customers. As the world evolves, so must our staff training.