Relationships matter as much as technology

There is a pattern in two major events that occurred this month:– 33 Chilean miners were rescued— in a breathtakingly heroic effort and, at the other end of the hemisphere,– Calgary elected a new mayor. They share one common theme:

Media credited technology for the success of both endeavours

In Chile, amazing machines brought 33 men and a few rescuers to the surface. In Calgary, an almost unknown professor with about 1% popular support when he entered the race used electronic devices to raise his popularity high enough to sweep the competition.

At least, those were the stories that made the news. And it’s true. Technology did save the men and help the man get elected. Is technology the whole story? Nope!

The better and mostly untold story is about the relationships of collaboration and consensus decision making that created the conditions for success in both cases.

Relationships saved the 33 before technology did

The 33 men in the mine shafts, after initial trial and error about how to get along in extraordinarily harsh circumstances, self organized their lives underground and averted interpersonal disaster. When the technology found them, they had figured out how to survive as a group.

The message used media

The new mayor of Calgary understood that technology is only a tool for policy and platform content. He had something to say that was worth hearing. Social media and networking transmitted his good messages.

Technology is good to have, not the whole story

Without the tools of interpersonal relationships and consensus decision making, which supported and made the technology fit the situations, both stories might have ended differently.

We still need to have our own resilience, conflict management, and interpersonal relationships skills. We might never run for office or be trapped by forces beyond our control. Yet, each day we have challenges that technology can’t fix and our conflict competence skills can.

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