We’re always looking to do things better, faster and smarter, and this can often mean favouring online communication over face-to-face meetings. I know that as a business owner, I’m definitely guilty of this. Sometimes you just need to get the message across, and you don’t really give a second thought as to how you do it.
That’s why it’s so easy to forget how important human relationships are, both in business and our personal lives.
You do business with people, not entities
If the purpose of business was simply to complete as many tasks as possible like robots throughout the day, then email and texting would probably suffice. But when we only communicate like this, we miss out on so many of the nuances and benefits that face-to-face interactions provide.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that business is about building authentic relationships. You need emotional intelligence to manage a team and facilitate business connections, and face-to-face communication is the best way to do this.
When you communicate online, it’s easy for messages to be misconstrued. People interpret a written text in many different ways, so what you believe to be a simple, ‘straight to the point’ email may come across to someone else as harsh and cold. As humans, we rely so much on body language and facial expressions to convey meaning from interactions, and digital communication can mean that we miss out on these vital components (apart from our extensive use of emojis, of course).
With face-to-face communication, you’re also likely to provide more information and expand on the points that you’re making. Your employees or customers can miss out on the reasoning behind decisions when communication is predominately online.
Be sure to optimise your meetings
If you have made the decision to prioritise face-to-face communication in your business, then it’s important that you now put measures in place to make sure your meetings are as productive and objective-focused as possible.
A good place to start is by only inviting the people who really need to be there, and having a clear goal for the meeting. Are you troubleshooting a specific problem? Brainstorming a future project? Make sure the outcome is clear from the get-go.
Ditching the office and meeting at a nearby cafe or going for a walk is a great way to boost productivity, as well as ditching PowerPoint and relying on verbal expressiveness, rather than mindless visual queues that tend to make people zone out from what you’re really saying.
Video calls, the simple alternative
If you want to combine the ease of digital communication with face-to-face interaction, video chatting is the way to go. Using video for meetings and general calls is a great way to easily get your message across, and make sure that your customers are receiving all the benefits of genuine human interaction. It may seem strange at first but after doing it a few times you will find your client interactions become much more personal.
There are plenty of ways to integrate video chatting into your business with a huge selection of apps like FaceTime, Skype and Appear.in. You just need to ensure you have a reliable internet connection, as you don’t want to be wasting time troubleshooting dodgy connections, or not be able to make video calls during peak periods of the day.
Human communication for authentic business relationships
At the crux of it all, there really is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, and this goes for both business and personal relationships. Try to include more in-person meetings if your schedule allows it, and I’m sure you’ll see the benefits. In the meantime, video chatting is always the next best thing!