Thursday // January 24, 2019

Remaining Human in 2019

In college, I gave a speech about remaining human after graduation. I really wish I had saved a copy to see if my 2019 self would agree or possibly challenge some of my conventional wisdom at that time. If I were to take a stab at what the crux of my message was it probably revolved around kindness, being considerate, looking for the good in others, and appreciating others.

Flash forward to now, all of these ideas still hold true but technology has changed the playing field. Why call someone if you have a problem with this individual – compose a public tweet to call her or him out on it? Does it need to be true? Nahhh…just publish. Worry about a retraction or apology later.

How about a desperate job seeker looking for an opportunity? No sooner has the person entered their information into an ATS, an auto-reply comes back and says that the company is moving forward with other candidates who are more qualified. Seriously – all of that from resume keywords? Not even a phone call to see if the person has heart, grit, passion, and determination?

If I were to give a speech now about remaining human, I would mention all of things I did 20+ years ago but would add:

Think about what your social media posts say about you as a person. Do they portray you in a good light? Do you come off as impulsive? Do you have all of the facts or a whole story to even offer an opinion? Is your goal to be uplifting or just bash/trash/crash as many people and events as you can?

Be deliberate and intentional. If you have a disagreement with someone, think through your response. Take others’ feelings into account. Or, as the old adage goes, put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Practice giving people grace. Former President George W. Bush famously said, “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples – while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.” That is so true. We have no idea what goes on in someone’s life outside of work. Sure, colleagues share things but usually not the really painful or bad things. You may not know if they have a sick child or parent, financial hardships, or a spousal/significant other problem.

As much as you can, be someone who listens, can keep a confidence, and provide resource ideas to those that need it. Use technology for what it is. It is a tool. It should be one tool in the box. Don’t rely on or hide behind it. Remember to pick up the phone, or better yet, go and deliver news face-to-face instead of by email or text. A little human TLC goes a long way in breaking any kind of message to others.

Above all, we should all look for the good and positives in all situations, instead of immediately jumping to the negatives and worst-case scenarios. How do you plan to remain human in 2019 and beyond?

As Senior Vice President of People, Heather is a member of the executive team, providing leadership to departments within the corporation that directly impact EMJ’s culture, including benefits, learning and recruiting. Heather has more than 20 years of experience in employee resources-related fields. She is a national member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and is designated as both a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) and a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Heather is a DDI-certified trainer and an accomplished speaker. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband and three children.

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