It’s time to talk about the benefits of face-to-face communication. But first, tell me if this sounds familiar:
You get a text from your best friend, whom you haven’t seen in months because you’re so busy. But it’s late so you put it off until the next morning. When you finally respond, you ask them how they’re doing. But now they’re offline. A few hours later, they respond and ask if you’re still dating so-and-so. But you’re getting on a flight, so you can’t update them on that juicy piece of news until you land. When the plane touches down, you see a message from your friend saying “Must have just missed you. I’m out on vacation for the next week, let’s catch up soon!”
Is it just me or is this situation lame? You both have so much to share with each other, and you miss each other dearly, yet the best you could get across to them was “I’m doing great, how are you?” This is your best friend we’re talking about!
The problem here is all too common these days. It’s a mistake we all make more than we should.
We opted for “easy mode” digital communication instead of making the effort to have a real, in-person conversation.
Now don’t get me wrong: there’s a huge convenience to instant chat apps and other ways of connecting online. In fact, they are my primary mode of communication these days. But I think you’ll agree that there’s something profoundly different about interacting with someone in person, something that’s just missing from interacting with someone through a screen.
Explearners: today we’ll take a look at why it is that face-to-face communication is just so darn special and why it’s the best type of interpersonal communication you can find.
These days it seems like we’re constantly on our phone or computers. And if you’re an entrepreneur, employee or student, chances are you’re looking at screens all day long.
Now we all know about the havoc the blue light from these screens can wreak on our sleep.
But there’s an even bigger danger these screens present: isolation from our fellow humans!
Just think, how long has it been since you had a real heart-to-heart with someone close to you? Not over Instagram, not on the phone, not via texts, but in real life … in person?
I won’t blame you if the answer is “longer than it should be”.
I totally get it. Working on Explearning, I find it challenging to find face-to-face opportunities because so much of what I do requires a screen.
Technology truly is amazing. We’re able to stay connected to people from the comfort of our own homes and workplaces.
In some ways, technology has made it way easier to communicate with our loved ones. It bridges the gap of time and space because it’s so easy to tap an app or click a button to hear someone’s voice or see them virtually.
Yes, this IS amazing! When I studied and lived abroad, skyping and WhatsApp was my jam because I could talk with my family and friends. That was a major lifesaver and source of happiness!
But I also knew I needed in-person social interaction. The virtual communication just didn’t scratch the same itch.
Luckily, I was surrounded by people all day, so I could cultivate friendships with people around me. And that was key to feeling a sense of belonging to these places far from home.
What we have to understand is that social media and the other communication channels cannot substitute face-to-face communication. Phone calls, texts, emails, and video chat are fantastic, but they play second fiddle to in-person interaction.
When you’re away from your friends and family, by all means call them up, inundate their inbox, send them a bajillion texts, go for it. We love the connectivity.
But whenever you get the chance for in-person communication, I urge you to seize it!
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why that its:
1) Flawless Signal
If you’ve ever upgraded from an old computer to a new one, and discovered that that video game you love plays waaaaay better on the new one, or upgraded your phone and noticed that the pictures you take now look 1000x clearer, you’ll appreciate that we have a long way to go in bridging the gap between the digital world and the real world.
We love fast internet because it makes our communications clearer and closer to real-time. But the most real-time communication of all is available to us for free! It just requires us to step away from our screens and toward the next human being. We see them in crystal clear resolution, the audio is perfect, and there is no lag nor digital interference of any kind.
2) A Reminder of Our Humanity
When we sit down and chat with someone, we get a rich sensory experience that can’t be transmitted through cables and airwaves. We hear the timbre of their voice, we can hug them, we can smell their scent, and we can enjoy a meal with them. We can engage all five senses, which is part of what makes us human.
This is why you feel such a strong sense of gratification when you spend time with people. We’re programmed that way. We would still be in caves huddled around fires if we didn’t have an incentive to be near each other and support each other and learn from each other.
3) X-Ray Vision
Interacting with people in person gives you superpowers. I mean it! The reason has to do with what we’ve discussed already. By engaging all your senses, and seeing the other person in perfect resolution, you have so much more information you can use to understand how the other person is feeling and how you should respond to each other.
Are they leaning toward you? Are they trembling or sweating? Did they furrow their eyebrows slightly? These are all things that you notice in a person that you might not be able to see digitally, even with video chat.
With face-to-face communication, we get the full picture, which when compared to a Skype call, is basically like having x-ray vision.
4) Make Great Impressions
If you’re looking to make a good impression, your best bet is to meet face-to-face.
Now, making a good impression does not just concern us when we’re meeting someone for the first time – be it on a date or in a job interview – but anytime we need to put our best food forward.
When we make an impression on someone, there are three things that will affect our score, so to speak. Professor Albert Mehrabian discovered that the degree to which we find someone likable is gleaned from three elements: words, tone of voice and body language. But they’re not all equal factors in our judgement. Our judgement is based 55% on body language, 38% on tone of voice, and just 7% on words. This is known as the 7%-38%-55% Rule.
So if you’re not communicating in person, you’re missing out on 55% of the analysis!
5) No Distractions
One of my favorite parts of in-person communication is that there are no distractions. They can’t be writing an email while talking to you, or checking their Facebook feed, or watching TV. A proper in-person conversation is just you and that person, no screens permitted. This ensures you have each other’s undivided attention, and that leads to much better listening and thus much more meaningful conversations.
So how’s that for a defense of face-to-face communication? We obviously benefit greatly from web-based connectivity, but there’s overwhelming evidence that in-person interactions are an essential part of our lives, no matter how digitally savvy we are.
Face-to-face communication is a wonderful banquet of the senses that reminds us of our humanity. It ensures we get, and deliver, the most perfect picture possible, with no distractions, so that you can have the conversations that matter in a truly authentic and meaningful way.
These in-person interactions will leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled, and that goes for the person you’re speaking to as well!
My challenge to you is to say “yes” to an in-person meeting this week. Or better yet, be the person to suggest a face-to-face meet up with someone. This could be a casual coffee session with a friend or having a quick meeting with your teammates in person.
Remember, social interaction is what’s keeping us alive. Myriad studies show that we live longer and better if we can build a community. So, don’t underestimate the power of your crew to keep you alive! And if you don’t have a crew yet, now's as good a time as any to build one.
So now that I've shared our thoughts, I want to hear about the last time you had a meaningful face-to-face conversation with someone that matters. What was special about it? What other benefits of face-to-face communication can you think of?
Share those three things with me and the Explearning community in the comments below.
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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners.
Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.
Happy Explearning ⚡