Monday, November 13, 2006

We Need a Little Old-Fashioned Face Time

Internet Age or not, I'm partial to face-to-face meetings. I hate to make any important decisions involving another individual without conferring with them, face-to-face … particularly those whom I work with, could work with, or report to and who report to me. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule, but generally it is a principle I believe all management should follow. There is no substitute for communicating live about raises, conflicts, major changes, key opportunities, strategic turns, new relationships or in any similar situation where a face-to-face encounter delivers more information than a phone contact.

"How to Read a Face," an article in a recent issue of Newsweek, discusses the fact that human brains are actually "wired to connect." Author Anne Underwood reports that "it's not just that laughter and bad moods are 'contagious.' Empathizing with a friend, whether in grief or elation, can activate the very same circuits in our own brains as in our companion's."

Science writer Daniel Goleman — the author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships — calls this phenomenon "neural WiFi."

In her article, Underwood goes on to say that "researchers are learning how conscious and unconscious processes help us scan a person's face for emotions, calibrate our own responses and manage nonverbal communications."

In their place, emails are effective, and there is no one who enjoys phone contact more than I do. In fact, the phone has been a critical tool in building this company. I really feel "wired" when I'm talking to someone on the phone who is being completely candid. And I am sure there is research that confirms the existence of "telephone vibrations" among people who really connect via this medium. But, ultimately, even the best phone conversations take a back seat to face-to-face meetings.

Clearly, I'm not the only one with that opinion. Late last month, networking giant Cisco unveiled TelePresence, its new technology that "creates unique, in-person experiences between people, places and events in their work and personal lives." Basically, TelePresence uses high-definition video and spatial audio to enable meeting attendees in diverse locations to catch all those subtle non-verbal clues (including body language and facial expressions) that are such an important part of the total communications experience.

It's worth noting that this need to connect is not new to our Wired World. As Herman Melville wrote back in the 19th century, "We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face time usually translates to a better relationship and thus a longer client relationship in my experience.

The clients I see more tend to "see" our agency as their marketing partner.

Of course I also have to admit that I dread the "We need to talk...can you come up to meet with us...." line that I get. Most of the time, that preliminary clause tends to lead to a parting of ways.

Even though I'm young (32), I'm not really big into the collaboration sites and software products. The problem I come across is implementing such a product in one office is quit hard....much less trying to get 15 different clients to also come onboard with the implementation.

We email a lot! It's a fact of life these days. My Entourage database of emails has grown to over 4 Gb. I like the fact that I have a true record of what clients and vendors tell me. The only problem is that, if I have a problem with what a client tells me...even if I have a record of the incident, in their eyes...I'm wrong. And there's no amount of "backup documentation" that is going to change that.

Kevin Nichols

Thursday, November 16, 2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Ken Makovsky said...

I appreciate your comments.

Friday, November 17, 2006 4:44:00 PM  

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