Thursday, March 01, 2012

Digital Natives on the Rise

Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatrist at UCLA, has reported that digital natives --people who can’t remember the time before technology -- have trouble maintaining eye contact or noticing non-verbal cues in a conversation. This is an example of the more subtle challenges — and opportunities — facing the public relations industry in the future.

Education may be a useful tool for enabling digital natives — who will definitely be our employees — to communicate more eloquently with “old-timers” who rely on eye contact and a warm handshake.

But it’s also possible that, for this next generation of managers, these cultural gaps may not exist at all. Digital natives may actually be more comfortable communicating with each other without nonverbal cues.

Just as we learned to be sensitive to the cultural nuances associated with cross-border business, we may have to learn how best to communicate (verbally and nonverbally) across the divide that separates digital natives from the rest of us, whether they are clients or colleagues.

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