I recently read an article by Cathy-Anne O'Brien in the Communications World Bulletin entitled "Losing Face Time? Recapture That Human Connection."
We all know face-to-face communications are optimal.
E-mail communications lack personality and emotion.
Phone conversations add tone and emotion but you are still not able to see the person's expression to see how they are receiving the message you are attempting to deliver.
"If you want to become a better communicator, you must make a conscious effort to engage other people in person," according to Jo-Ellan Dimitrius in her book Reading People.
In the age of social media, the importance of making an emotional connection is greater than ever.
People like to do business with people they know like and trust.
The best way to build this trust is with an in-person dialog. This way people can see you are sincere in what you are saying and you're able to see their expression while you are delivering your message.
Here are some points to consider when determining when face-to-face communications is the best option:
- With whom are you speaking? Do you know the person well? Are they important to your business or career? Do you need to improve your relationship with this person? Whether it's your client, your colleague,boss pr someone you are managing, much more is accomplished in face-to-face communications than e-mail, texting or even by phone.
- What are you communicating? According to Kathleen Begley, author of Face-to-Face Communication: Making Connections in a Technology-Driven World, "Face-to-face communications remains the most powerful human interaction. As Wonderful as electronic devices are, they can never fully replace the intimacy and immediacy of people conversing in the same room." This is particularly true if you are delivering sensitive news. You want to be able to see how the recipient of the message received and reacted to your message to ensure you communicated effectively.
- When do you need to communicate the message? While you may need to initiate a message after traditional business hours, it's important to have a face-to-face follow-up as a next step in the process to ensure the message was received and interpreted as you intended.
- Where is the audience located? Though geographic boundaries may limit the economic feasibility of face-to-face communications, "it's astounding what can be learned from eye contact, facial expression, body movements, space, time distance, appearance -- all non-verbal clues that influence the way the message is interpreted, received or decoded by the receiver," according to Mary Ellen Guffey in Business Communication: Process and Product.
- Why are you communicating? Identify what you want to accomplish from the communication. If give-and-take is required or the objective is to create good feelings and teamwork, then face-to-face communications work best.
As Tom Peters has said, "Technology is the great enabler. But now, the human bit is more, not less, important than ever before."
Face time may not only be the most appropriate in many situations, it can also ensure a successful outcome for the project about which you are communicating.
What percent of the time do you communicate face-to-face versus telephone versus e-mail?