Do you ever grow tired of talking to a computer?
Arguably one of mankind’s greatest advancements, language is a societal staple that began more than 100,000 years ago. Since its beginning our world has developed over 5,000 unique languages (many of which are still used today) but, with the startling rise of technology, the way human beings communicate with one another is changing. Did you know that over 560 billion texts are sent each month? Or that roughly 205 billion emails are sent and received each day? Even though you have a phone literally sitting right in your pocket, how often do you truly call someone anymore? Technology-focused communication has drastically advanced since the golden age of the first wired telephone and, if current patterns are to be followed, will continue to change at an exponential rate.
While technology is a godsend for most of us—who thought you would be able to finalize a business deal with a partner on another continent by simply sending a text message?—it has its drawbacks. Software crashes. Internet lags. Phones fall in water. Laptops contract viruses… And the idea of face-to-face conversations seem trite and obsolete.
But when exactly did that happen? When did mankind decide that standing in front of someone, saying hello, shaking their hand, existing in the same space at the same moment was a waste of time? Sure, you could probably send twenty emails in the same amount of time that it takes to have a discussion over coffee, but is it really worth it? There is definitely something to be said about quality versus quantity, and when it comes to face-to-face networking the statistics do not favor technology.
In an infographic produced by Great Business Schools, 84% of professionals said they preferred in-person meetings, and for a variety of reasons. Face-to-face conversation isn’t just an opportunity to build a stronger, more meaningful relationship (85%), it also helps you to better read your partner’s non-verbal communication (77%), allows for greater problem solving and critical thinking (49%), and speeds up the decision-making process (44%). Think back to your own experiences. How often were you professionally influenced by an individual’s manner? A strong handshake and confident aura are often more important than a resume—such as, from my own experience, I am personally dissuaded from working with someone if they have a weak handshake (or attempt to shake my hand like a “girl…” You know the one I’m talking about, ladies). The way you carry yourself influences those around you and can often encourage, or discourage, a relationship.
On the flip side, think about how often you are misunderstood through technology. Tone, inflection, and sarcasm are unfortunately unable to be translated through text. A direct email can be misinterpreted as terse. A joke can be taken seriously. An auto-corrected typo can change an entire sentence’s meaning. As advanced as technology has become, it still cannot replace the intricacies and nuances of human speech. Even webcams can be fooled, with multiple parodies and memes in place displaying the clothes equivalent of a mullet.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to people. You do business with a person. Not their business, not their email, not their cellphone; a person. And no matter how you look at it, technology is not in place—and potentially never will be—to replace human interaction. A deal-closing handshake cannot happen via Skype. Watching someone’s life through Snapchat is not the same and living it with them. And a heartfelt email will never replace the warmth of a hug. So we say go forth and interact. Invite someone to coffee. Carpool together to a meeting. Go out to lunch. Shake someone’s hand. And. Just. Talk.
But then again, there is something to be said for the convenience…
Looking for an opportunity to practice face-to-face networking? Join your LAX Coastal community at this month’s Networking @ Breakfast Mixer & Orientation to start your morning with a hot meal, cup of coffee, and great networking.
- Networking @ Breakfast – Mixer & Orientation
- Thursday, February 23, 2017
- LAX Coastal Chamber Office
- 9100 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 210, Los Angeles, CA 90045
- $10/Member – $20/Not-Yet Member