The Botox revolution has become the most talked about “look-young quick” scheme in a long list of physical enhancement options marketed to us by the media and the medical industry. Fuelled by our obsession with youth and beauty, they are only too happy to oblige our insecurities and vanity by presenting new and exciting ways for us to part with our hard earned cash in an attempt to look less like our authentic selves and more like someone else… namely Angelina Jolie, Miranda Kerr or some other age defying celebrity.
When did we decide that older no longer means wiser, and in fact, now means unattractive and unwanted? When did plastic become fantastic, exactly?
Somewhere along the line it has become unappealing to let others see our emotions. The smile and frown lines we have come to expect and rely upon, to gauge what other’s really think and feel, are disappearing now in younger and younger faces. If a person’s appearance is practically frozen and expressionless, how do we know what they are thinking and feeling? And more interestingly, does anybody even care? Are we trying to mask the facial clues or are we also trying to cover up the expression of the underlying emotions themselves?
Compared to 15 years ago, we have more than twice as many tools at our disposal to articulate ourselves in our personal and business lives but do we really have better communication and relationships? More and more we rely on highly impersonal means – text messaging, social media and emails – to keep in touch but also to convey confidential information, conduct negotiations and build relationships. More and more we are talking at everyone but not really connecting with anyone.
Everyone knows that only 7% of effective communication is in the actual words/language used and that 93% is conveyed in the way that we say things and our body language. Even though it is largely unconscious, we rely heavily on non-verbal cues to discern what is (and is not) being said. Without those vital clues, we make assumptions to fill in the gaps and hope that we have presumed with some degree of accuracy. Oftentimes, we miss the mark completely.
In essence text messaging, social media and email have become the communication equivalent to Botox. They serve to allow us to defy time and distance by talking to and reaching MORE but in fact we are connecting and accomplishing far LESS. Surprisingly, more is not always better than less. What happened to the good old days when we picked up the phone and spoke to the person we needed to be in touch with or better yet, we met them in person – face-to-face? Perhaps we’ve all just become far too busy for such primitive means?
Now I’m not saying that technology doesn’t have its place both in business and in our personal lives but what I am saying is this, when is the last time you shot someone an email containing sensitive information in order to avoid actually speaking to them about it? Have you ever sent a message only to find out that the person on the other end took it completely the wrong way or misinterpreted it? I would be surprised if you could not think of a handful of examples where you have used technology in order to sidestep or circumvent dealing with a difficult situation head-on.
My point is this – if you want to build effective relationships and influence others you need to take responsibility for the effectiveness of your communication. While it may be easier to cut corners, inject fillers and toxins or hide behind technology, the wrinkles it creates in our lives will always eventually come back to the surface and bite us on the cheeks. Not only is it cheaper to grow old and communicate gracefully, it is also more beautiful and less addictive.