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Commercial Real Estate

The Professional Side Effects of Social Media

Mohr Partners' managing principal on the drawbacks of digital relationship-building in real estate.
By Eric Beichler |

Today’s generation has lost the ability and the need to genuinely communicate with each other face to face.  The impacts are both personal and professional.

Growing up, there were certain things that my parents worked to instill in us: respect your elders, be a great neighbor, don’t talk back to your parents, and always make eye contact when meeting someone. All of these lessons to live by required face to face communication. It seems these days are behind us, and communication methods have changed.

The world today is smaller than ever, yet we seem so disconnected at times from each other.

Eric Beichler

Face to face communication is an after-thought more than a necessity. The passion and care by which people used to communicate are hard to find these days. See, I still believe people prefer to interact with individuals they genuinely like and trust. The problem is, it is hard to get to know each other through texting, abbreviated emails, and LinkedIn messaging.

We are not developing life skills in young people today to properly articulate messaging and meaningful communication.

The skill of convincing people to commit to something (saying “yes”) is just hard to do with no practice.

These days, it’s more about spreadsheets, data, and reports than the human side of someone honestly explaining the “why.” Technology will show the result or the value versus the individual who may understand the offering and passionately walk through the story.

Telling the story still is the best way it is received.

We are potentially losing the art and style of effective communication, which always created the best relationships.

When the no. 1 method to communicate is texting or Snapchat, we have just lost an entire approach to how we elect to treat each other. When you meet people face to face regardless of how much time you have to spend with them, you inherently treat them with more respect and appreciate any differences in a more appropriate manner.

I continue to share with my children that the ability to speak effectively with confidence and treat people with a genuinely positive attitude will get you farther than any other skill set you can develop.

People want to feel important; they want to be appreciated, and they want encouragement. This is almost impossible to do with any real, meaningful approach if the messaging is made via a social media platform. In today’s workplace, we have too many people managing in this manner, striving to meet specific timelines. This is no way to build a team!

Social media has also been linked to severe adverse side effects like levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, and, indeed, decreased social skills.

In one particular study, 60 percent of people using social media reported that it had negatively impacted their self-esteem.  Also, 50 percent said social media had adverse effects on their relationship.

We have lost the value and the need to focus on the individual we are speaking with or communicating with at the time of interaction. We have also not found enough free space in daily schedules to sit and visit with each other. Everyone and everything are moving so fast, while results need to be measured and tasks completed before the end of the day.

Technology and social media create shortcuts at times that don’t serve the customer or clients well.

We need to have a curriculum in our school system that allows students in both high school and college to better understand where they are in these skill sets. We have to continue to push our young students to be great communicators and have the ability to speak in front of small and large groups alike. The days of having tactful, thoughtful follow-ups, and reading body language to enhance communication are gone.

Our highly connected world is becoming more and more disconnected. For many, posting meals, taking selfies, and trip photos over human interaction is their interaction. This is concerning and is creating an unhealthy way of life. The real damage is that for many, the portrayed “self” on social media is continually seeking more validation through electronic “likes,” not life.

As I continue to work with and hire young professionals, I always challenge them on these skill sets and explain to them the importance of having these life social skills, which will take them a long way in becoming a substantial leader.

Finally, don’t forget to get out in life and meet people, interact, shake hands, speak to people directly, be accessible, and ultimately take a genuine interest in others. These interactions will come back to you tenfold and will provide more confidence, growth, and stability than you realize.

Social media and technology are here to stay but note that consumption should be with moderation.

Eric Beichler is the managing principal and shareholder at Mohr Partners.

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