Archives for posts with tag: Communication

How do you answer the question, “What do you think of if you were asked to find something in an encyclopedia?” (If you thought of a set of big, hardback books labeled by the alphabet, you’re not a Digital Native.)

What question would you consider if you saw a big, often yellow, fat, paperback book labeled by year and produced by a phone company that was delivered to your door?

a)    Where should I keep this because I may need it?

b)   What is this and why would I want it in my house?

(If you answered A, you’re definitely not a Digital Native.)

Do you remember life when your parents did not have cell phones? (If you answered No, you probably ARE a Digital Native.)

And your answer to this next question is one that reveals where you sit on the imaginary boundary of those called Digital Natives or Digital Immigrants: When told to search for or find some information, if one of your first thoughts is to “Google” it, you are at least a Digital Immigrant.

My Digital Native, high-school son had no idea why anyone would want a phone book!

So what’s the difference between Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, or Digital Hermits?

  • Digital Natives know life globally and relationally at a 24X7, continually connected way of being with people and information on our planet.
  • Digital Immigrants expand their awareness of technology integrated into all aspects of life (whether they use it or not); they willingly put their toes in the virtual world to explore what tech can do for them – often embracing new processes and ways of thinking and living that leverage technology.
  • Digital Monks possess an awareness that our culture is shifting to technology as an integrated way of life, for both young and old. However, be it resistance to change, fear of technology, lack of knowledge or skill, or a belief that “doing life and business” without technology worked fine – a conscious decision has been made to stay removed from technological advances in their personal world.

From The Outside Looking In On The Digital Natives

I am not a Digital Native. In spending a little time wit our friend’s two-year old, it was evident she knew how to use an iPhone independently. She could unlock the screen, open the apps, scroll to her Smurfs game, play all on her own, and she knew when to ask her parents for the power cord when it needed “juicy” to keep it working. No, at two, if I were given an iPhone back in the late ‘60’s, I would have traded that thin, plastic block for a pile of Play-Doh or Legos in a second. I’d have had no idea that I held the virtual world in my little hands!

But as our world progresses with technology at the center of business development, communication, and human connectivity at a global level, I remain curious about what exists in technology and how I could use it in my life and work in ways that help me live the life I desire. This definitely qualifies me as a Digital Immigrant. I ask and learn about integrating ever-changing technology into my life from those Digital Natives in my life. I remain amazed at the Digital Immigrants I know (like current college seniors) who hover much closer to the unseen bubble boundary of Digital Natives; they teach me so much.

While it is fascinating to observe a Digital Native child in action with technology, it is also fascinating to visit with a Digital Monk. These are people of all ages who are plenty aware that life is moving at warp speed with “always on” technology connecting us across our earth. Yet for numerous reasons, they opt to “step away,” and not immigrate into life as a Digital Immigrant. Perhaps they like the space and time that “quiet-without-technology” brings, or the creativity that spills forth when they pick up a pen and paper, or the joy in maintaining a handful of deep, “real” relationships where the primary form of communication is face-to-face.  Digital Monks choose not to infuse their lives with technology.

Digital Immigrants and Digital Monks are simply two different perspectives and approaches to dealing with technology in our culture today. And both espouse pieces of wisdom.

Our Digital Natives, however, may find it challenging or perhaps unnecessary to live life any other way than fully connected to life with tech. They will grow up with their heads in “the cloud.”

As adults today who are not Digital Natives, what a cultural phenomenon is developing before us as new communication norms become commonplace. (But since the topic of socially acceptable communication behavior in the population group of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives is ripe with opinion – like, is it polite or okay to text when you are having a face-to-face small group conversation? – I’ll hold off on going there in this blog post!

Does it matter if you know if you are a Digital Natives, Immigrant, or Monk? No, wherever you fall on the spectrum is fine, but awareness of these differences can be fun to observe and discuss because it impacts our lives everyday. And the more aware of the differences in how folks view the world and technology allows us great opportunities to respect various perspectives.

By Dr. Heidi Scott, Communication and Leadership Specialist and Digital Immigrant

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Dear Dr. Scott, I’m working in one of the virtual groups in your online Masters class. I’m at my wit’s end trying to complete our group tasks for this first week of working together. To be honest, it’s really challenging to “collaborate” with the group when there are only 2 of the 6 of us present online in our virtual group’s wor- space! I have tried to engage our members. I have emailed them. I have posted requests for folks to jump in to the dialogue. But the clock is ticking and I’m getting ticked, too! What advice do you have about how I should proceed? It’s just very stressful trying to work with people who are not willing to participate.

Signed, Freakin’ Frustrated Frenzy in Florida


As our planet “shrinks” through virtual group work, what are some keys to building effective virtual work groups?

So I teach graduate students online. There are often virtual group projects assigned. Through the years I have seen some groups flourish and some tank. Typically, these people have never met face-to-face, and even during the project never speak voice-to-voice. Sometimes I receive a plea from a student like the email above (based upon a true story!).

What are the keys to successfully working in a virtual group? Whether for an online course (which a growing number of people across the globe partake in weekly), or a business virtual group – what are some concrete steps to building an effective virtual work group?

1.     Connect with group members as individuals; try to establish a sense of a personal relationship right away – rather than focusing solely on the tasks at hand. Ensure clarity of purpose and who the group members are right away. And most importantly in this first step, conscientiously communicate respect and value toward each person and the experiences and depth each person brings to the group.

2.     Be willing to be authentically vulnerable. By approaching conversations as a humble contributor (rather than a know-it-all), you add to a positive chemistry where insights and perspectives of others are genuinely encouraged. Operating without assumptions for why other group members do what they do helps you remain open to discovery – and encourages others to share openly rather than defend any shortcomings.

3.     Verbalize agreements in the team setting. Even in a virtual, text-only setting, committing to actions and timelines – and then following through! – builds trust in the virtual group. There’s not much beyond being dependable and pleasant that the group may know about you in the fully virtual, text-only group; following through on agreements sets the team up for continued effective work toward its common goal.

4.     When life gets out of control as it sometimes does, or when “it” happens and you can’t follow-through or engage with your virtual group as intended or planned, are you willing to “own” your behaviors? If you willingly address your shortcomings and include plans for how you intend to avoid this in the future, you help your group get over your short-lived failure. (Believe me, they most likely already know about your shortcoming! Being silent about it only causes them to doubt that you are aware of how you negatively impacted the group.) “Owning” your behavior drives the level of trust up – which is so critical for the success of a virtual group.

5.     Express appreciation for the efforts, contributions, and personhood of your group members. It is amazing how a little bit of verbal appreciation goes such a long way! Celebrate the value that each person contributes; celebrate the mini and major milestones of the group’s progress.

These keys to build real trust in a virtual group also work in building a trusting culture in a group that meets face-to-face. The difference is that in the virtual setting, you just have to be a bit more focused on investing in your group’s positive momentum  – because you can’t rely on “sensing” feelings through voice tone and body language and facial expressions! In the virtual group it becomes tricky at best to check your perceptions.

Going back to the email I received from my graduate student, Freakin’ Frustrated Frenzy in Florida, it was somewhat funny to see the debacle unfold as it came to light that the assumed “missing” and “unengaged” group members were not missing or unengaged at all! They had (all) mistakenly been dialoguing in a different area of the online work-space for the group…and had been wondering where the “other 2” group members were! No one was dis-engaged…they were just a bit confused on the correct virtual location in which to work together!

Part of the 5th key above to build trust in a virtual group includes the strategy of operating without assumptions in trying to understand the motives and behaviors of others. One of my favorite statements when it comes to communication – whether virtual or face-to-face – is: Assumptions get you nearly every time!

By Dr. Heidi Scott – Leadership and Organizational Development Specialist (who for fun teaches undergrad Communication and graduate Leadership!)

Emerging leaders on the edge of the known to unknown…that optimistically describes college graduates. They know how to “do” college; they register for classes, stress about them, complete them, have as much social fun as possible along the way, and then continue the cycle into the next semester.

Navigating the major challenge after graduation – or helping someone navigate it

Yet I see a trend of stress that accommodates students about to graduate from college, regardless of the degree. From my students who are seniors about to receive their BA, or my students wrapping up their Masters Degree, and even those on the brink of adding PhD after their names with the conclusion of their doctoral degree, there is a common thread of stress. I’ve sensed the palpable stress and anxiety of individuals soon to graduate, but I hadn’t been able to put my finger on exactly what it was – until this week.

I recently met an exuberant, articulate, and well-spoken young woman who cracked out her Masters Degree right on the heels of her BA. As we visited over Starbucks, it struck me that she would be a great source of real-life input to my undergraduate seniors as they prepare to enter their career journeys in about a month when the graduation ceremony festivities are over.

Have you ever had a gut sense about someone? I believed in this young lady and had sensed that her character and quality of person were things I could trust in if I invited her to come in as a guest speaker. I had a hunch that even though I had just met her, that she would be able to relate to the stress that my seniors are facing much better than I could, simply due to the issue of recency – and offer valuable insight. I was right.

As she spoke to my class of a few juniors and a bunch of seniors about to graduate from Gonzaga University, I took notes. I learned what that major challenge and sometimes stumbling block can be for recent graduates seeking or find themselves in a new work environment and role after college.

“How many of you feel a sense of stress about the need to “prove” yourself after you graduate?” It looked like a “wave” as hands went up across the room.

My 25 year-old guest speaker continued and described the types of things that she sees in the eyes of recent graduates facing decisions of:

  • Grad school, or not? Now or later?
  • Ethics in the interview process – how many potential employers should you string along until you find the “right” job?
  • Should you “settle” for a job just to pay the bills when you know in your heart it is not the right fit?
  • What should you know before you take a job across the country for the “fun” of it?
  • At what point do you let a relationship dictate your job or location decisions?
  • How will people in your new city/state and those you will work with know you and all of your strengths?
  • How do you prove to yourself and to others (family, friends, new employers and new colleagues) that you do make wise decisions?
  • How do you prove that you are better than “good enough” when you land where you land for work after graduating?

Phew! After listening and seeing how these issues resonated with my class, I suddenly became especially glad with my age and that I am not faced with all of those concerns!

My guest speaker’s advice to people feeling the pressure to prove themselves after graduating? Listen to your authentic heart. And to quote Parker Palmer, “Let your life speak” (– which is also one of my favorite books of his by that title!). Just the fact that the issue of dealing with the internal desire to prove yourself after graduating had been named and can now be anticipated with a plan to work through it seemed to bring a sense of peace to my seniors.

My take away’s and learning that is ready to implement from this event are two-fold.

1.     If you are an employer, leader, boss, or even an employee where a recent grad comes to work, go out of your way to acknowledge and affirm the effort, performance, results, and potential that you observe in this individual. You can reduce this unspoken need to “prove” value in the workplace when youth and workforce inexperience may not always be seen as a most valuable asset.

2.     If you are a friend or family member of a soon-to-be or recent college graduate – inquire, listen, and affirm the courage in this person as he or she navigates many significant life decisions. How can you express respect and encouragement for who this person is today, as well as who this individual is choosing to become?