Andrew Griffiths was the guest on this week’s episode of the Dent podcast (in the…
It’s Time to Invest in Face-to-Face Conversations – Part 1
In this article, I explore six ways people think and behave more positively when engaged in face-to-face conversations.
Have you ever tried to discuss an issue with your colleagues or clients but didn’t think it was necessary to be in the same room for this? You decided to talk over the phone or the internet, perhaps via email, online chat or video conferencing. However, despite your best efforts to articulate your points clearly, you couldn’t fully understand each other.
We all know that meeting someone face-to-face can be a very different experience. I also discussed this in an earlier article, ’We need to start taking our relationships offline’.
When you see people in the flesh, you can sense a more tangible connection, and express yourself more freely. You can also get your messages across more effectively.
However, there’s also a lot going for modern communication technologies, which allow you to connect with essentially anyone from behind your desk. Reaching out to others using email, online chat, phone call or video call is often quicker, cheaper and more practical than getting together in person.
So what should you do?
In certain circumstances, it’s extremely beneficial, and maybe even necessary, to meet people face-to-face. At other times it makes more sense to discuss things online or over the phone.
But before jumping to conclusions, let’s explore how we think and behave differently when we meet people in person, and engage in face to face conversations compared to when we connect with them remotely.
When we learn about people’s opinions only through the written word, especially if we don’t quite agree with their views, studies have shown that we have a greater tendency to stereotype them and see their arguments as unreasonable.
In contrast, when we can see and hear these people talking, we tend to form more objective first impressions and consider their arguments more thoughtfully.
Have you noticed how quickly people can become detached when communicating remotely? We can see a sad manifestation of this tendency on social media.
You’ve probably recognised that you’re a bit more curious about people when you get the chance to physically catch up. And even when you seem to disagree about something, you are more interested in their perspectives and experiences as well as more considerate and kind.
As you’re engaging with a person sitting in front of you, you can pick up subtle non-verbal cues from their voice and body language that today’s telecommunication systems are unable to transmit. These might be, for example, a tiny twitch of an eyebrow, a slight rasp in the voice, a tiny change of colour of the skin, or the lift of the chest during a deep breath.
These cues can guide your intuition, and even though unconsciously, can help you understand the other person’s thought processes and emotions.
It always takes courage to talk about something you care deeply about when you feel uncertain about how others might react. But conveying emotionally charged messages can be especially difficult using technology.
Unless people can see and hear you very clearly, they could easily misunderstand your thoughts or intentions. We can, therefore, feel somewhat cautious and contrived in remote conversations.
On the flip-side, face-to-face interactions leave less room for ambiguity. We’re also able to ask questions in real time and get instant feedback. These are some of the reasons why we tend to express ourselves more naturally and honestly and have more real conversations.
Do you sometimes multitask during phone calls or conference calls while no-one can see what you’re doing? Most of us are guilty to some extent. Even if you believe that you’re capable of focusing on several things at once, these conversations always suffer.
You must know what it’s like when you’re trying to carefully explain something to your team, and you just sense that others are not really paying attention.
On the other hand, people tend to be more present when sitting down with you, partly because they face fewer distractions, and partly due to common courtesy.
Before you go.
For a moment, picture yourself speaking with your teams or clients in person. You know that they are listening to you objectively and with consideration and empathy. They are open to sharing their thoughts and are also more present compared to when you communicate via digital technologies.
Have you been waiting for the right opportunity to discuss disruptive ideas, complex problems or personal and potentially emotional experiences? Perhaps you want to share your honest thoughts and opinions about delicate subjects, well, this is the time to invest in face-to-face conversations.
In my next article, I will explain specific situations when getting together with your teams or clients is highly beneficial.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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