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Where’s Our Humanity?

March 3, 2020


  • Mike Gergen

There is no denying that technology has had a tremendous impact on our everyday lives. Overall, it has made us more efficient and productive – adding measurable and tangible value to our

personal and work environments. However, there is also a downside. Technology can be impersonal, especially in regard to the nature and depth of human interaction in the workplace: the allure of technology has driven many to lose sight of how their actions – or inattentiveness – impact those around them and how this often leads to unhappy, disengaged, or nonproductive employees.

In order to better understand the significance of inattentive personal interaction, one ought to examine their own work experiences. If you reflect upon why you stayed with an employer, you will probably identify three basic motives. First, you likely felt valued by your firm. Second, perhaps you formed a personal connection to one, two, or a few other people at the company. Third, you might have believed that your firm contributed to society and, more specifically, understood the way in which your unique role contributed to the broader societal impact. If you can identify with any of these motives, you will likely find that such reasons were built on attentive personal interactions – not an email or a text.


The perception that you are valued as an individual is often too taboo for people to discuss, yet it is vital to one’s overall experience at a company. People begin to assess their value from the moment they apply, throughout the interview process, and for the entire time that they work at a firm. Reaffirming a person’s value throughout his or her life cycle at a firm requires everyone to focus on the other person and to look for changes in their demeanor. Since people often transfer negative connotations from non-work activities with children, parents etc. onto a work interaction – whether it is merited or not, makes it important that each person pay close attention to others and compassionately explore changes. If a team member fails to recognize their coworker’s change in conduct, the transferred negative emotion may become permanently associated with work or the inattentive team member. Once a negative emotion has become associated with work or another person, it is extremely difficult to disconnect the toxic emotion, let alone prevent it from spreading to others.

Constantly prioritizing others may prevent or eliminate the likelihood of associating negative emotions with work. Moreover, it provides an awareness that facilitates personal connections. It is ironic that the seemingly minor interactions influence people the most and often lead to a personal connection that keeps people at a firm. You may never be told of how your attentiveness in a small matter led to personal connection, but it is very rewarding when, years later, someone lets you know how much your personal interest meant. Often your care in small matters gives others a reason to stay with a firm through life’s inevitable turbulence.

A final reason people may stay at a firm concerns their individual role. Specifically, they understand the way in which their role facilitates the firms’ societal impact. Communicating the value of a person’s role and how it fits into the larger picture should be communicated during the interview process and throughout their tenure of employment; this recurring reminder is often lost in the hurriedness of today’s world. Intentionally emphasizing the relationship between an individual’s role and the societal impact may endow them with a sense of purpose – even when they do not feel valued or have yet to establish a strong relationship with team members.

Increasing people’s awareness that they are valued, creating an environment for forming new personal connections, and cultivating an understanding of how their role impacts society will effectively counter the lack of humanity in today’s busy tech-driven world. Slowing down and treating people humanely in all situations will increase contentment, productivity, significance, and, of course, retention. Therefore, the next time you are in a hurry, take a breath and see how the other person is doing. You will find that your day goes better, and you may just create a positive contagion.

You may want to try this at home too!


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