By Mike Jiggens
Facebook, Twitter, texting, email, Skype… There are so many methods available to us these days in which we can communicate with others. They are effortless and can be performed virtually anywhere at anytime.
For the most recent generations of Canadians, it seems to be their preferred method of touching base with others. It’s as simple as pulling your cell phone from your pocket, punching in a series of characters (which, with today’s modern version of electronic shorthand, doesn’t even require proper spelling), and hitting “send.” In a matter of nanoseconds, the sendee receives the message.
This simple task can be performed while walking from Point A to Point B, while engaged in another task or even while using the bathroom.
These various methods of instantly communicating with others are hip and now and immediate, but there is one thing they are not. They’ve taken away from that all-important element of meeting face to face with another.
For simple social interaction, there’s probably nothing wrong with that, but, in the business world, it’s a step backwards.
On page 32 of this issue, we feature a guest-written story about how the reliance on such easy methods of communication can be detrimental in the business world, and this includes our industry.
When meeting face to face, either individually or as a group, one is fully exposed to others. The tone of his voice and his body language cannot be hidden by a cell phone or a computer. If he has something to hide, others will pick up on it at once. It cannot be disguised by technology.
Our writer suggests, “Social media and technology do have their place, but they are not, and never will be, a substitute for in-person interaction.” He said he never would have achieved satisfactory results if he had tried to build business relationships via email and social media.
He acknowledges that face-to-face meetings, and sometimes even long-distance telephone calls, can be expensive and impractical at times, but communications means such as Skype are affordable and still permit that face-to-face method of interaction, albeit without being physically there.
When one is present and physically standing before another, he is giving his complete and undivided attention to that other individual, whether he’s a customer or co-worker. Hidden by a cell phone or a computer, he may be doing something else entirely while his electronically-sent message is only his secondary task.
“Letters on a screen can’t compete with the personal touch,” he says.
When meeting face to face with another person, you are responding to not only what he says, but to his mood and body language, and you are able to adjust accordingly. Electronic means of communication prevent that from happening.
“If you know that hands in one’s pockets indicate boredom or disinterest whereas leaning slightly forward indicates interest, you’ll be able to respond more accurately to others and avoid sending messages you don’t mean to.”
Modern means of communication are here to stay, and they certainly have their place. But let’s never forget how we originally developed relationships and how new ones can best be established.