The In-Person Experience

I love Bruce Tempkin’s post today commenting on his in-person concert experience with his daughter.  He relates this experience to his passion – creating the customer experience.

It reminded me of my daughter making plans to visit her uncle in Pittsburg to see one of her favorite alternative bands that was performing in a tiny renovated church in Milltown outside the city.  She learned about the band from online downloads.  She followed them online.  But for all the onlining…what was really important was hearing them in person and sharing the fun with all the other fans packed into a tiny hall that had once housed church-goers.

I think fears of onlining neglect the human spirit that needs and seeks the in-person experience.  As Bruce points out the shared experience “makes people feel more connected.”   And this connection is both physical and emotional.

Consider this comparison:  You receive an email from your cousin that your 90 year old aunt died from overheating because the nursing facility did not attend to the air conditioning unit.  You and your cousin correspond over a few emails.  You feel badly and do your best to convey your feelings.  He responds with appreciation.  Yes, you are connected.

But what if, instead of responding with an email, you hop in your car to visit your cousin.  You knock on the door, greet him with a hug, and spend time talking with each other.  The in-person connection is so much more powerful.  The grief is shared directly. The bond between you renews and grows stronger.

Granted, you might feel more comfortable emailing your cousin about the dying and death.   The email does connect both of you — in a cerebral way.  Intellectually, he knows you care and may believe you can understand his grief.  He has no way of knowing if you can feel his grief.

Nearly 20 years has passed since my friend Pat was diagnosed with cancer.  Even though I was near broke at the time, I hopped on a plane, rented a car, and sat at the bottom of her front steps waiting for her to come home from work. To hug her, see the kids, meet the grandkid – to talk about nothing vital – just to talk and eat together was a momentous in-person experience for both of us.  It gave her courage to come east as she was recuperating to see family.  She fought for five years and left us just before Christmas.

For me, that experience crystalized the importance of being there.  I am sad she is gone, but I can still hear clearly her laugh, her Nebraska accent and feel the warmth of  her friendship.

Consider all the people you care about and have not seen or spoken to …. get on the phone or get in your car or take the next plane out — make the connection.  In-person!  Renew and contact, it may be just what your spirit needs.

About mcgntr

About Ann I was lucky and grew up in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts surrounded by the arts, industry, literature, and family. I had a great education-- undergraduate work at Caldwell College and my masters at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I began business life as Training Assistant. Returning east, I continued in the training profession, and ‘fell’ into Human Resources - first, Recruiting and Employment, Director of Human Resources and finally Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Training. I bowed out of the corporate world with the white collar layoffs in early ‘90s – and started a new venture McGill Enterprises: HelpQuick Human Resources Advisory & Training Services. I have enjoyed great opportunities - publishing 3 training books, mentoring HR professionals, creating a wide variety of training programs, writing scripts, and becoming an adjunct professor.
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