Archive for December, 2015

Face To Face is Best

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Behind the Digital Curtain. Why face to face communication is still the best.

The giant green head dominates the cavernous room. Sparks flash from the eyes and flames shoot up from the ground. Every booming word overwhelms the four individuals, meekly cowering before the scene. “The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken. You must bring me the witch’s broom. Now go!” In mortal fear, the Cowardly Lion bolts down the hall and leaps through a window. The Tin Man is reduced to a “clinking, clanking, clattering collection of kaligenous junk”.  However, in spite of all his theatrics, the real Wizard of Oz was simply a person hiding behind technology.  Are you doing the same?

 Face to face communication preferred

Why should you bother working on interpersonal skills when most communication is by telephone, text message and e-mail? “Because face-to-face communication remains the most powerful human interaction,” says Kathleen Begley, Ed.D., author of  “Face-to-Face Communication, Making Human Connections in a Technology-Driven World.” “As wonderful as electronic devices are, they can never fully replace the intimacy and immediacy of people conversing in the same room.” This was supported in a 2009 survey by the IABC Research Foundation where both tech-savvy Millennials and older Baby Boomers said they prefer face-to-face communication as the primary way to build relationships in the workplace.

Positive career impact

The standard 8-hour job has been replaced by 24-hour accessibility. Organizations hand out cell phones, laptops and PDAs to employees so they can “telework” without even coming in to the office. Everyone is connected through e-mail, text messaging, smart phones, and Podcasts. Is mastery of all these tools really the best way to advance your career? Not according to a 2007 survey of 1,320 executives by recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International, where teleworkers were less likely to advance in their careers than people who went to work each day. Executives want face time. It’s difficult to promote people who are out of sight because they become out of mind. Not to mention many situations, often involving conflicts, high priority, or large amounts of money, that require people to sit down in the same room and share information. So while we all spend more hours working, if we don’t get the face time we may be missing out on career opportunities.

Digital etiquette

Communication may have changed since 1922 when Emily Post wrote “Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home,” but politeness, kindness, respect and discretion are still important. For example the simple thank you note may have been enhanced by technology. While certain situations still may require a hand written note, e-mail is acceptable for most others. I routinely use short email thank you notes to follow up with contacts, keep my name “top of mind” with prospective clients and extend network opportunities. Here’s a few other digital Rules of Etiquette collected from a recent issue of Wired magazine: (1) Provide subjects for all emails. (2) Don’t follow more people on Twitter than follow you. (3) No more than 20 tweets in 24 hours. (4) Don’t type “BRB”. Just go and come back. (5) Never apologize for a lame tweet or blog post. (6) If your call drops, call back. (7) Ditch the Bluetooth earpiece if you’re not actually using it. (8) Don’t work all the time.

Anger management

A simple rule of thumb before responding to an email that makes you angry is, “Would you say it in person?” If not, don’t send it. Email can be a problematic communication tool because people do not have the benefit of body language and voice tone. Many experts suggest that body language alone makes up for as much as 80% of communication. Personally when an email hits my hot button, I force myself to wait 24 hours before sending a response. I may draft a hot response but never send it. Always offer to meet the person and talk face to face. Emails back and forth frequently make a bad situation worse. Never use offensive language in emails. Try to use an “I” statement as opposed to accusatory language. For example “I felt confused by your remarks,” instead of “You are a @@#$$@#$$.” Ask for clarification instead of jumping the gun.

The last laugh

Humor that works in person or even by phone sometimes doesn’t work well online because the human contact that puts things into context is missing. With digital media, be careful how you use sarcasm, satire, potentially inappropriate humor or anything else which might be misconstrued. Remember that anything you post or send in an e-mail or even text message can be forever copied, stored or forwarded and re-read and end up places you never imagined. When committing something to writing in the digital age, be sure it is something that you really want to say because it could potentially end up going to a much wider audience in the future.

P2P the critical link in B2B

According to CTIA, the Wireless Association, in 2007 Americans sent close to 50 billion text messages per month. In 2008 that more than doubled to 110 billion text messages per month. However only face to face communication provides the opportunity to judge information through facial expression, body language and tone of voice. That is why people-to-people (P2P) communication skills remain a primary career success factor in the business-to-business (B2B) world. Don’t rely solely on technology to share information, communicate ideas and grow relationships.

Remember, for personal career success, technology is just another tool and not your latest BFF.