To be clear I am a committed digital evangelist, I firmly believe that digital technology can save our planet along with a huge dose of common sense and fairness. That said there is a-lot to be said for some traditional business practices, and I think there will always be a place for them. Face to face meetings is one such practice.
We are living in a world that is increasingly moving online. Technology has changed the way that we do everything; how we have our downtime, how we work, how we communicate – it’s all changing every day. Coworkers can work together no matter where they are located in the world, and employees can take on remote contracts and spend more time with their families, parents can communicate with schools about their children and their education. Technology is enhancing the way that we do everything in our lives, and yet there are still some challenges to overcome.
With the birth of all this technology that enables us to communicate, there is the chance that we see each other less when it comes to face to face meetings. The more we rely on the convenience of email and text and telecommuting, the less we spend getting to know the tone of voice, body language and facial expressions of those we are dealing with. When it comes to business relationships, all of these things are vital.
You may not think there is much in face-to-face relationships, but blind connections aren’t going to last in business. The strength lies in the client/customer partnership, and if you’re not spending time getting to know your suppliers and your clients, you’re not going to keep that business relationship going. So, why is face-to-face so important?
Better Working Relationships
When you are meeting with clients, you need to go beyond the telephone and email. Skype is innovative, as our other video conversation channels, but they are still second to sitting down at a boardroom table and having an open and active conversation that can’t be shut off with the click of a button. If you are not physically in the workplace, it’s straightforward to stay locked away at home working remotely. You are less likely to be connected to clients and colleagues if you are only ever connecting over email. A sense of community can only come with socialising and the ability to interact with each other. It allows people to trust each other and learn how to bounce off each other in a way that email just doesn’t get you.
When you have a face to face conversation with someone, non-verbal cues are important. The twitch of an eyebrow, amusement in the browline and even the way people tense their shoulders or cross their arms all tell you about their character and how they’re thinking. You can’t get that on a video conference call.
When you send a round-robin email to everyone on your team remotely, you can’t tell whether you have their attention, whether they are happy about the contents of the message and you can’t gain an understanding of whether they have any issues with it, either. Meetings and lunches foster a sense of engagement, which helps your employees as much as it helps you.
Employees can often feel cut short if they are only ever spoken to by management in writing. Sometimes, sensitive issues in the office or between management and staff need to be dealt with face to face. It’s the same if you plan to cut ties with a business associate or supplier: manners cost nothing, and a conversation is polite. Challenging conversations should be done in person, to mitigate any further issues and avoid misinterpretation. It’s easy to pick up on vague tones, and it can cause new problems when communicating over technology.
A text does not have a tone. You can use bold or italic or underlined features, sure, but you can’t put any understanding or firmness in your online voice. Emails and texts can be easily misunderstood or misread by the other party, which can lead to issues. This level of misunderstanding cannot be conveyed in person because you can hear the tone behind the words and promote better business practices at the same time.
Technology today is making our lives more comfortable and more convenient in so many different ways, but it’s not the only tool to help us to communicate. It shouldn’t be relied on at all times, as nothing can replace how impactful face to face communication is. People bounce off of people, not words on a screen, and face to face conversations are always going to be better to have than over email or text. Your organisation should handle communication with sensitivity and care, and effort should be made to keep face to face conversation as important as ever – even in this digital world.for a face to face meeting at our offices in central London to discuss your digital marketing requirements. Of course, we will provide the coffee and biscuits : )