Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you know that the tension between communication and technology is tenuous at best. Some tout technology as the best, easiest, fastest way to communicate, while others deem technology the culprit for our low-level conversational skills and the reason why “kids these days” can’t carry on a conversation like a normal human being.
No matter which side of this debate you are on, one can probably assume that this argument will always exist.
Recently, we’ve come across two different Harvard Business Review articles that really made us think about technology’s role in communication, for better or for worse.
The State of Conversation
We believe all conversations are a gift.
We also believe that the majority of you spend 80% of your waking hours in some type of conversation, whether it be aided by technology or not. Despite this, very few of us have been trained HOW to have a conversation.
Being “connected” is a necessary evil in both our personal and professional lives. In sales, being connected often means you either win the big sale or you don’t. Jumping on an opportunity before a client or customer has the chance to move on to your competitor is a reality in today’s world. In our personal lives, that cute picture of your dog might be the way you stay current with your brother or sister. The small touches are often highlights of a busy day.
Slowly Move the Needle to “Communicate Effectively”
BUT…What if e-mail became a tool as opposed to a hindrance to communication?
BUT…What if we were to create a new moment instead of commenting on an old one?
BUT…What if your customer knew what you looked like instead of memorizing your e-mail signature?
BUT…What if you responded to that text message with a phone call and heard a voice on the other end of the line?
BUT…What if we began to consider the amount of time we spend on email compared to face-to-face communication?
BUT…What if your client would be relieved to not have to communicate with you via e-mail?
BUT…What if you were able to gain insights about your client in a real conversation that you wouldn’t in an e-mail thread?
BUT…What if you were able to share something about yourself that made your client feel “connected” and “engaged” with you?
This list of “what ifs” could go on and on. Technology will always be there to aid in communication that doesn’t demand “richness”. Sometimes, a text is just what is needed. And oftentimes, that e-mail really should be sent because it’s a tactical task that can be accomplished quickly that way.
But there’s a certain percentage of conversation that you could be having without the use of technology. This excerpt from the article entitled “It’s Time for a “Slow” Conversation Moment” says it best:
“There is a new hierarchy in communication emerging from least to most personal — email, social-network messaging (e.g. Facebook or Twitter), text, handwritten note, phone/Skype conversation, and live in-person meeting. Of course, not all interactions require the richness afforded by a meeting, but a handwritten note, phone call, or coffee, will always carry greater fidelity, signal and weight than bits and bytes. Do a simple audit test of reviewing your past two weeks or month of email chains of discussion — how many of those would have been better done in person?”.
Talk to 5 New People this week. It’s the easiest way to slowly devote a slightly larger percentage of your time on “rich conversations”.
And if that doesn’t work, install your own “Bullshit Detector” by finding a mentor that will tell you when you’re not communicating effectively.