Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Break Out of Your Cocoon - Eliminate Social Isolation In Your Home Business

We've all heard about “cocooning”, which sociologists have been monitoring very carefully since the explosion of the Web. Cocooning is the process of social isolation where a society withdraws from physical interaction with each other. This “hermit-like” behavior can lead to the decline of many cultural and social traditions. Cocooning also affects the way we interact with other when do finally leave the house and meet face to face.

The Internet has changed the way that humans communicate and interact. We can spend hours in chat rooms pretending to be beautiful, successful and brilliant when in fact we are average looking, overweight and unemployed. The person at the other end of the keyboard has no way of verifying our claims or disproving them.

Internet chat removes an essential aspect of communication: body language. Such things as posturing, fidgeting and eye contact all are unconscious transmitters of our true intentions. We learn as small children not to make eye contact when telling a lie and to cross our arms to distance ourselves from unpleasant people or situations. But the computer screen has no way of converting these communication skills into data that can be observed as overtones in the written text of a conversation.

Cocooning may impact the communication skills of future generations. While excelling at expressing themselves through the written word, our children may lack the skills to give a convincing speech in public or carry on a comfortable conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store. Some youth even use text messaging to communicate when they are in the same room ... let's not even get into the challenges with spelling and normal communication this is causing.

Some people argue that the growth of the home business industry is accelerating this trend. As more and more people work for themselves, from home, and communicate with colleagues over the Internet, face to face meetings and more traditional forms of meetings are dropping.

Add to this trend the fact that many parents are home schooling children, you can email your mother and fax your clients. You can even order a pizza, shop for a birthday gift and have your groceries delivered: all without any verbal communication.

As in everything in life, a balance is needed. If you email your mother today, call her tomorrow and visit her on the weekend. If you work from home, make time to visit the park. Join social groups rather that Internet message forums.

For your children, limit the amount of time that your children use the Internet and cell phone for text messaging. Encourage teens to take a speech or debate class along with that computer programming class when signing up for college courses. They may not like speaking in public (after all it is one of the top fears) but it will go a long way in helping expand their communications skills ... which are vital for future business success.

Social interaction has another valuable role for the home based business owner ... it extends your network and builds a support net for you. Find outlets where you can talk, share and interact with others in person. It gets you away from the screen, and out into the world. It can also help spark creativity and a drive to keep going when the going gets tough.

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