Question: You've been asked to give a commencement speech to this year's college graduates about their role as future leaders. Give us the two or three key paragraphs from your address.
You know that technology has changed your life. But did you know that it has also changed your brain? According to research, this is true for everyone, but it is most relevant for you “digital natives” who were born into a world of laptops, smart phones, text messaging and tweeting.
These newly evolved technology circuits are bringing your brain to extraordinary levels of potential. You have a heightened ability to react quickly to visual stimuli and to sift through large amounts of information rapidly to decide what’s important and what isn’t.
But, while your brain has been developing circuitry for online social networking, it has also produced shortened attention spans and diminished social skills, including nonverbal communication (body language), which directly affects emotional aptitudes like empathy. In fact, a study by the University of Michigan found that the empathy levels of college students have been declining over the past 30 years – with an especially steep drop in the past 10 years. The problem is, you will find that social skills, empathy and nonverbal savvy will become increasingly important to your success as you enter the workforce.
The good news is that you can intentionally alter brain wiring and reinvigorate some of those dwindling neural pathways, even while keeping all the advantages of the newer ones. So I would advise you to grab your well-earned diploma, keep honing your technical abilities – but also study body language!
View all panel responses to our discussion about the best words of wisdom to give this year’s graduates. Here are some of them:
Carol Kinsey Goman | May 2, 2011 6:15 PM