An Interview with Miti Ampoma: More Technology; Less Communication?

Mar 25, 2013 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) You have just written a book entitled “The Innovative Communicator”. What brought this about?

I work as a communication specialist in business and also mentor young people and help them find jobs, by helping them with their CV’s, presentation and communication skills. In the past five years in particular, I have noticed the increasing lack of human communication, human interaction and almost the ‘avoidance’ of building strong deep human relations as the norm. This human aspect is being increasingly replaced by technological communication. So, in my experience, some young people in particular, find it much easier to communicate by social media, be it Facebook, Twitter or text for instance, rather than have a face to face, look me in the eye conversation with another human being.

It’s as if, human communication and interaction is being jeopardized rather than being enabled by the prolific options we now have with Information technology.

A recent UK study found that modern technology is making face to face human communication redundant. Almost half those sampled admitted they used phone calls, text messages, tweets and emails to communicate with family members in the same house rather than going into another room to talk to them face to face.

The Innovative Communicator is a persona I have created, a human character which the reader, will recognize immediately, can learn from and who’s characteristics they can adopt as appropriate to build deep human relationships, with face to face communication at its heart. This is essential for our personal well- being as well as our professional lives, and for the greater good of society. At the end of the day, we are built for human relationships. Each and every human being needs emotional benefit and that is derived from strong human communication. In a modern climate, innovative communication, which is human communication at the core, now supported and enabled by modern technology is the way forward.

2) We have all heard the phrase “We need to communicate better with each other!”. Whether this be in business, industry, churches, or sports- the theme is the same- people are not talking. How come?

We are all hearing the phrase “We need to communicate better with each other” because the plethora of social media and technology is giving many of us an ‘opt out’ and/or is making as ‘lazy’ in having clear, honest, face to face conversations which is the right way to really communicate effectively. There is no substitute for this. Emails, texts and other forms of communication are one removed from face to face conversations. They may be quicker, easier and more convenient but are not necessarily the best way, depending on circumstances.

Our need for human relationships and face-to-face communication is why we have friends, families, loved ones and other relationships of choice. This is equally true of the relationships and bonds we form and develop and are recipients of in the workplace. Face-to-face communication inspires and connects us to one another. It liberates the human spirit, spurs people on, and motivates them. With a focus on integrity and humanity, soul in a business will drive business performance, increase profits in a sustainable way and contribute to creating a more positive impact in the world.

3) We have e-mail, Voice Mail and snail mail- yet communication is often poor- are people just so busy or stressed that they do not take time to read things?

While email, voice mail, snail mail and the range of other technological communication tools available can be helpful, they are only so, if they enable and support the human experience and relationship. Meaningful human relationships are lost when there is insufficient face to face interactive human dialogue, leading to misunderstandings, confusion and potential distrust.

For example, an email wording might come across from one person to another as curt and distance, but it may be because the writer is having a bad day and doesn’t remotely intend to offend the reader at all. If that were a conversation, or they knew each other and had had a previous human interaction, the receiver of that email is less likely to feel misunderstood or offended, and more likely be an empathetic and understanding recipient of the same email, despite it’s ‘tone’.

4) I have to confess here—I often turn my cell phone off because I want to get things accomplished—like writing these questions for you. Am I at fault or sabotaging myself?

You are neither at fault nor sabotaging yourself! It is a healthy natural human need to just be, having some thinking time, have some reflection or what I call ‘soul’ time. It is almost impossible to think clearly and at one’s optimum if the cell phone keeps bleeping, vibrating and ringing when you need to think! To have a clear head and really produce our best we need to be cell phone free – at least for a while. We need peace and quiet to be at our best and think and produce creatively. That is the human condition.

5) In your book “ The Innovative Communicator “ what suggestions do you provide ? URGENT ? MUST READ? IGNORE AT YOUR OWN RISK?

As urgent and a must read is the need to build deep relationships in the workplace. This is critical for success both for colleagues as individuals and for the business. It’s important to make the time and effort to find out who your colleagues are. What makes them tick? Really listen to what a colleague has to say. Use your intuition and perception to spot opportunities, times and places to begin or have conversations that build relationships. Become a confidant people can trust. Operate with diplomacy, discretion, trust and integrity. Build a relationship with the organizational blocker too. Once won over, they will become a great champion to your cause. Inspire others to participate and go the extra mile. It reaps rewards.

Ignore at your own risk the following: Great communication means great business these days. Bad communication is bad business all days! It is no longer enough just to leave communication between your people in the workplace to your Human Resources, communication department or experts. In a new business climate, if you manage or lead people or teams, you need to become a savvy communicator yourself too. The way in which you (and your teams) communicate will enable your people to feel valued and understood, despite challenging times and difficult circumstances. Trust and integrity require demonstrable action in personal behavior and communication. People need to trust and believe what you say.

6) Now, a lot of times, there are things that cannot be said- There are administrators and no one wants to say they are out of touch with reality. There are bosses and no one wants to say they are incompetent. Your thoughts?

The Innovative Communicator overcomes these challenges by being able to push their own boundaries, step forward with courage and get tough with heart. The Innovative Communicator has the skills to communicate their message (and that includes things that “cannot be said”) clearly, accurately, honestly with integrity and empathy. They provide clarity at a time of uncertainty (they say what is and is not, what they do know and do not). The tougher the message, the greater the need to communicate you also care about people’s plight.

Bosses end up sometimes reluctantly, but admiringly learning from the Innovative Communicator who leads the way, breaks new ground and makes a difference for the greater good in tough and difficult circumstances. The Innovative Communicator will back up their communication of support in the workplace with action that delivers to provide emotional benefits (rather than offering meaningless platitudes).

7) In marriages- what seems to be the issues and concerns?

It’s a widely recognized fact in many studies and survey’s that one of the main reasons for problems in marriages is the lack of clear honest communication between couples. This was brought home to me recently, when a friend confided in me that she and her husband now email or text each other while at home together, rather than talk face to face. She said “When I come to think of it, we can go most days emailing each other while he’s in the dining room and I’m next door in the lounge. You just get into the habit really”.

My friend made no connection between her complaint that she felt ‘disconnected’ from her husband and the way they communicate.

8) What about families?

Families are also increasingly suffering from technology overtaking time to bond as a family. For instance meals are more a tray on the lap, while watching television, rather than the family sitting together and eating their meal uninterrupted and really talking, connecting and spending quality time with each other. Kids are watching television, playing with their smart phones or iPads or video games for long hours in the day. We have a generation growing up brilliant but addicted to smart phones. Families need some technology free time to be with each other, and enjoy being with each other!

A recent UK study found that modern technology is making face to face human communication redundant. Almost half those sampled admitted they used phone calls, text messages, tweets and emails to communicate with family members in the same house rather than going into another room to talk to them face to face. This cannot be a good thing.

9) I think you have suggested put down the phone and talk face to face, but from literally 6 a.m. to 6.p.m. I am going, going, going. I know teachers who tell me they don’t have time to use the rest room- Is the problem stress? Lack of communication?

The problem is this modern phenomenon that we feel somehow compelled to keep going non-stop from 6.00am to 6.pm. It is leaving many people stressed and less productive. It is known that people are answering their mobiles while in the ladies or gents toilets! Why? Everyone should have a least half an hour if not an hour in the day to clear their heads, go for a walk, get some fresh air, talk to another human being about subjects other than work that helps them sparkle as a human beings, just for an hour. This way, you bond with another human being and it helps clear tension and stress. It is a much better way to connect and communicate and is so much more productive for output rather than going, going, going non-stop!

10) How does a worker say “You are asking too much of me “?

Chapter 7 of the Innovative Communicator is titled ‘Get tough with heart’ and provides lots of stories, dialogues, tips and guidance to having the honest conversation about what isn’t working and how it needs to be. So a worker will reframe “You are asking too much of me”. They will say instead: “ It’s important for me, for us and for the good of the business if we can have a discussion about my workload, which currently is too much for me. It’s important I explain why I feel you are asking too much of me and how we can work together to find a solution that really enables me to contribute my best to the business and add even more value. At present this is in jeopardy. Could I book an appointment with you as soon as possible to have this discussion please?

The key is for the worker to communicate their message, clearly, accurately, honestly with integrity and empathy, so it’s a win-win for all involved.

11) What have I neglected to ask?

Nothing. I think you have been very comprehensive in your questioning. I hope you find my answers of value.

Best regards,

 

Miti

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