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Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health

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In the last decade or so, technological changes–mainly voice mail and e-mail–have made a lot of face-to-face interaction unnecessary. Face-to-face contact has also fallen victim to “virtuality”–many people work at home or are otherwise off-site. Indeed, most people today can’t imagine life without such technology and the freedom it grants. But Edward Hallowell, a noted psychiatrist who has been treating patients with anxiety disorders–many of them business executives–for more than 20 years, warns that we are in danger of losing what he calls the human moment: an authentic psychological encounter that can happen only when two people share the same physical space. And, he believes, we may be about to discover the destructive power of its absence. The author relates stories of business people who have dealt firsthand with the misunderstandings caused by an overreliance on technology. An e-mail message is misconstrued. Someone forwards a voice-mail message to the wrong people. A person takes offense because he was not included on a certain circulation list. Was it an accident? Often the consequences of such misunderstandings, taken individually, are minor. Over time, however, they take a larger toll–both on individuals and on the organizations they work for. The problem, however, is not insoluble. The author cites examples of people who have worked successfully to restore face-to-face contact in their organizations. The bottom line is that the strategic use of the human moment adds color to our lives and helps us build confidence and trust at work. We ignore it at our peril.

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