Technological advances rolled out in the past decade are having a profound impact on the way we interact with loved ones, friends, customers and business clients. These advances are most certainly intended to make our lives easier and more convenient (so they say). They are intended to save time so that we have more time for other “more important” things. I don’t know about you… but it has only made my life busier and at times a bit more complicated. How was I spending the same amount of time 20 years ago that I now use to email, text, tweet, blog, update my status, etc.? I have to admit… I have no clue. But I do know I was working at building solid lifelong relationships. With all of the technological tools we use today… are we as good or effective at it now as we were then? Can all of this new technology enhance and solidify our personal and professional relationships like it did in the past? No disrespect for those under the age of 30… but put down your cell phone and stop tweeting that some old dude is going off on a tangent on FohBoh.
I had my 45th birthday not too long ago. It was a sobering event that answered my above question. From the majority of family, friends and business contacts established pre-2000 I received what may seem the usual. Phone calls to wish me a happy b-day, heartfelt tangible cards received regular mail, actual gifts from people who know me, know what I like, and put thought into it – not a generic gift card. From the majority of family, friends and business contacts established post-2000 I received e-cards, birthday posts on Linked-In & Facebook, happy birthday texts on my cell, etc. And most of those were belated! Go figure. What a startling contrast. Do you even have to ask which of the above I preferred? Appreciated more? Made more of an impact? I can literally recall the name of each person from the pre-2000 category. If you need the names of the post-2000 I can probably name a few. The rest I will have to get back with you on. I need to research my email, Facebook, Linked-In, my cell phone, etc.
So what does this all mean? What is the common thread that illustrates the difference in relationships pre and post 2000? Here it comes… are you sitting down? I’ll use a quote to give you a hint….
“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” – William James
It is appreciation and gratitude! Showing gratitude and appreciation have become somewhat of a lost art for many of us. It just doesn’t translate as well with today’s technology. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some pent up Amish dude at heart who rejects technology or social media. I love technology! Peek in my window tonight and witness some old dude playing Left 4 Dead on XBOX Live. I can cream you at Halo too! ;) Technology shouldn’t get all of the blame. Sometimes we are just too busy or consumed to reach out and express it. We mean to but never get around to it. And if we don’t express it at the relevant time in which it is due sometimes there is no second chance.
In my opinion, Gratitude and appreciation is the fundamental core of building relationships. We remember people that show heartfelt appreciation and gratitude toward us. It gets etched in our hearts and minds. We gravitate toward these people. We love these people. We sell to and buy from these people. Showing appreciation and gratitude creates a bond. It is free to give and priceless to receive. It can cause our personal and professional lives to soar to heights unimaginable.
So what type of system do you have in place that reminds you to show appreciation or gratitude? What tools do you have in place that systematically and even unexpectedly leads you to reach out to others? Yes, you read that right. We have tools and systems in place all around us for the most routine and sometimes unimportant things. We have coffee makers that wake up before you so you have that hot cup of java waiting when you get out of bed. We have smart phones that remind us of our appointments. We have systems in place that pay our bills automatically. We have tools and systems in place for a multitude of things we deem important. Why do most of us not have a system in place that at a minimum would aid us in showing some sort of consistent gratitude and appreciation to the people we care about? I believe that if you don’t you are missing out on one the most powerful tools in building personal relationships… even wealth.
I will close this with some irony. Despite all of the negatives I feel about technology at times… it is that very same technology that recently took an “old school” way of showing appreciation and brought it up to speed with 2010. My wife Elizabeth and I have discovered an old fashion way of reaching out to friends, family and business clients, which now has an internet twist and advantage. It has enriched our lives both personally and ultimately financially.
It is a powerful "Relationship & Customer Retention" tool and system that touches people in a way that social media or email never will. It's a concept and service that is changing people's lives much like Netflix changed the way we rent videos.
Remember to say thank you. Show appreciation and gratitude. It will change your lives.