The Need for Face-To-Face Communication

June 10, 2011

There’s no doubt that e-mail communication is a vital tool for modern businesses. It affords a speedy and convenient means of transmitting direct, straightforward information. But to truly get the most out of electronic communication, businesses need to strike a balance between online and face-to-face interaction.

In 2005, Alison Stein Wellner wrote an article for Inc. magazine about how face-to-face communication is becoming a “dying art” in the wake of e-mail, text messaging and other telecommunications technology. As part of her research for the article, Alison spoke to several academics and experts who have studied how businesses communicate and the pros and cons of both face-to-face communication and online communication.

What these experts had to say mirrors that of Dale Carnegie Training’s own philosophies on communication. Here is a condensed version of four reasons to emphasize face-to-face communication:

1. Keeps Communication Skills Sharp – At some point, regardless of what type of business you run, you will need to pick up the phone or meet with someone face-to-face. But if you overly rely on electronic communication, those interpersonal communication skills dull. Naturally, weak face-to-face conversation skills pose a potential threat to the success of your business.

2. A More Effective Form Of Communication – A tremendous amount of the subtle, nuanced aspects of communication we all rely upon are lost in e-mail. E-mail is purely words, representing only 7% of an interaction’s meaning, with the rest coming from facial and body language, and vocal inflection. As such, e-mail content runs a greater risk of being misunderstood than verbal communication does.

3. Causes Less Conflict In The Workplace – Because there is a sense of detachment inherent to e-mail communication, people tend to be more uninhibited when e-mailing. With less face-to-face interaction, e-mailers are more inclined to sling insults and use swear words, thus stirring trouble in the process.

4. Strengthens Work Relationships – Face-to-face communication that encompasses the previously stated body language, facial expressions, tone and inflection, is more conducive to team building and collaboration. That’s not to say it is impossible to achieve team unity over the web, but nothing trumps in-person activity when it comes to holding in-depth conversations and discussing matters that are sensitive in nature.

Consider these four criteria next time you need to reach out to someone, and decide whether a face-to-face meeting wouldn’t better serve your purposes.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Photo credit: photostock

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