Remember to seek out human-to-human interaction

Cruising through some recent realtor blog posts on the web, I'm consistently amazed at how genuinely civil and supportive most people are. It reminds me of what brokerage offices and Association membership meetings used to be like prior to the advent of email, cell phones, and texting. People actually hung out and talked to one another.

At that point in time those conversations may have been borne out of necessity. After all, the data in the MLS book was probably out of date and people needed to know about that new listing you just took. But this desire for connection speaks to an innate need for belonging and interpersonal engagement. Humans weren't really designed to be isolated from one another.

Make no mistake—I'm a huge fan of the text, email, and cellular technology and networking gizmos; if nothing else, there's no doubting the incredible time savings they provide (just check out SlyDial.com). However, I'm often reminded of how our ability to relate effectively in person with people is being compromised by personal technology.

One of the rites of passage as an adolescent is facing the unpleasant prospect of either breaking up with someone or getting dumped. In those days (and I'm talking about the late '70s and '80s here), it was really un-cool to either get dumped or dump someone else via a handwritten note. Even dumping someone voice-to-voice on the telephone was considered cowardly. To not have the gumption or integrity to meet with the person and tell him or her face to face how you felt was basically a cop-out.

In today's over-scheduled and expedience-over-substance kind of world, it's so easy to just send a text or an email for everything—especially difficult messages. My concern here is that effective interpersonal communication is a skill that requires practice. Just like muscle, if it is not worked, it will atrophy and eventually become too weak to be useful.

Left to our own devices, marriage proposals, divorces, asking someone to prom, asking for a raise, or hell, even a listing presentation can be done electronically all to safeguard our fragile egos with the numbing, yet safer, effect of emotional insulation.

My proposal: for every 3 or 4 positive comments you leave for a blog post, find someone you can share a compliment with or acknowledge in person. While you may not get any Google-juice for the in person comment, the deposit in your karmic bank account will enjoy compound interest!

Chris Hardy is a Managing Broker for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2011 he was named Realtor of the Year by the Fort Collins Board of Realtors. You can send your feedback to Chris at chris.hardy@coloradohomes.com, and you can visit his website by logging on to www.chrishardyrealtor.com.