How personal interactions are sometimes better than technology
March 02, 2012
The ubiquity of technology can be overwhelming at times. With the constant barrage of emails, text messages, phone calls and Skype conferences, it's important to unplug oneself from time to time. Somewhat ironically, as these devices are intended to expedite and streamline business processes, sanity often demands those traditional modes of contact.
"No matter what industry we're in, we're all in the people business," writes René Shimada Siegel for Inc. magazine. "We'll only be successful if we really get to know our customers and colleagues … Skype, WebEx and audio calls are convenient and create the illusion we're actually having a meeting - but nothing beats the power of a truly personal, face-to-face connection."
It goes without saying that these technologies are a miracle for both human interaction and business productivity - it's important to remember the perks of personal, physical communication. Here are a few ways the old methods are better than the new.
Everyone can relate to sending a text message that fails to communicate the subtleties of facial expression, mannerisms and physical gestures. Sarcasm, for example, fails to translate well to text-based mediums. It's much easier to detect confidence, empathy, fear, friendliness or sincerity by looking into someone's eyes or observing their body language. This is especially important when it comes to negotiations, job interviews and loan applications.
Making an impression
What you wear and how you carry yourself can make a huge impression on prospective employers, partners or higher-ups - even if only sub-consciously. A watch, a new hat, a book you're reading - these things can spark conversations and establish initial and lasting impressions in a way that a phone conversation or Skype call cannot.
Being off the record
Sometimes it's good to have a private conversation. As private as an online chat or email may seem, it is not entirely. Some professionals may not even be able to share certain information over the phone.
"Over sushi or a latte or a walk around the block, my clients can let me know more - with more color - than they can over the telephone or in an email," Siegel adds.
Once again, these points are not meant to discourage the use of social and web technologies outright. It's just important to remember the ups and downs of every method of communication.