A bank in town just decommissioned its last manual elevator that had been in service for 98 years. Five elevator operators were out of jobs, the vestiges of a profession that has all but disappeared.

The loss of the elevator positions caused me to think about all the opportunities for human connection that we have forgone in exchange for technological efficiencies. I used to have “my” travel agent that provided great conversations as well as airline tickets. There are barely any retail cashiers to chit-chat with anymore, with most larger stores moving almost exclusively to self-serve kiosks. I do my banking on my phone, pump my own gas and can do about anything from my computer without any need for personal interaction.

I wonder if the unintended consequences of all this isolation aren’t contributing to the incivility that we are experiencing. If we operate via machine and don’t recognize our interconnectedness with other people, it’s easier to dismiss or vilify them. Having those few minutes of small talk with a clerk about the weather reminds us that we have things in common and we’re all just trying to do our best. Talking with the elevator operator on the way to the top floor allows us to have a moment of community instead of just an express ride.

As you go about accomplishing your list of errands today, make sure at least one of them includes a human-to-human exchange. Say more to the cashier than “no bags, please.”


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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