I often wondered how I would bring my parents into the 21st Century when it came to technology. Although we were early adopters of the personal computer, my parents were old-school. They didn’t understand the need to text or instant message, let alone comprehend the vast world of Google or Facebook. My sister and I tried and tried to convince them to leave the dark ages and join the rest of the technology world.
Now my father is in a race with us to buy an iPad and completely captivated by the world of apps. Can it be that my semi-retired father is becoming a tech geek?
If you want bring your parents or coworkers into the 21st Century, here are a few key elements that helped us make that transition possible.
1. Keep It Simple — For those of us who have grown up with our current level of technology, it seems intuitive. Not so for the older generation! We need to provide them with a clear map to get from where they are to where they want to go. If they want explicit instructions to write and send emails, then by all means, give it to them! My mom often needs step-by-step directions when it comes to technology, but once she has them, she is off and running.
2. Connect to Their Want — Come from what they want, not what we want for them. Motivation to learn something will increase dramatically when they see the benefit for themselves. My parents learned how to text because they wanted to connect with their daughters. We wouldn’t call back if they left a voicemail, but we would respond to a text. They are now regular texters. They have even learned to Skype with my sister now living in Thailand.
3. Have Compassion — When we bring compassion, people have space to change and grow. They are free from guilt or embarrassment of being judged. It was only after my sister and I no longer teased and embarrassed my parents for their lack of tech savvy that they began to truly learn the new technology.
My parents have come a long way from learning how to use email. I am proud of their willingness to become the students and allow their daughters to become the teachers. This role reversal can be challenging, however, with the right attitude and a little patience, anything is possible.
Sara Nowlin is a life coach and author who specializes in empowering others to be authentic and fully self-expressed. She is a contributing author in the book, Speaking Your Truth, Volume 2. Visit www.saranowlin.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.