Face to face or smiley face for business?

images-2We have learned throughout our lives how to read people. We look at their eyes, their lips, how fast they are breathing, the way they position their bodies. We subconsciously or consciously can interpret from these small nuances what the person is feeling, and how we feel about them. This is how humans have been interacting since the beginning of time. In the face alone, according to psychologist Paul Elkman, there are 43 muscles which allow us to read even the most fleeting of emotions. Enter technology and the replacement of meeting someone face to face with text and email. We may try and replicate by sending messages with cute smiley faces but there is absolutely no way that we can transmit the personal feelings that transpire when meeting someone face to face.

Under certain business situations, whether with fellow co-workers or clients, face to face interaction is a more successful means of communication than virtual. Let’s look at some of these benefits as they apply specifically to business.

1-Ability to read body language: when you actually meet with the person you are talking to, you can read their facial expressions, the placement of their arms and hands, whether they are yawning or looking at their watch, smiling, nodding, engaged. These nuances allow us to make quick adjustments to the conversation or the sales pitch.

2-Development of bonds: meeting face to face allows for dialogue amongst several people at once. It allows for team building, team work, and a feeling of cohesion. You can create emotions together and excitement. There is increased opportunity for personal discussions and getting to know one another. You can more easily build trust.

3-Immediate feedback: Decisions can be made in a timelier manner. No going back and forth with emails. Meet, brainstorm and make decisions quickly.

4-Scheduling: when you are together you are inherently in the same time zone. You can schedule your meetings and even go for a quick lunch together.

According to Forbes Insight survey (2009) of 750 executives, 8 out of 10 prefer face to face interaction over virtual. Given all the benefits it is not a surprise.

There are many advantages to virtual communication and the reality is that we need to use it for at least some of our work. Virtual communication has broadened the scope of recruitment and diversity. You can more easily find specific skills required that you may not have in house. It often saves us time and money and allows for flexibility in our location. But technology cannot replace the traditional methods of communicating between people, face to face, and the subtle emotional cues. Ultimately, we need to find the right balance between the two. That could mean working some of the time virtually but meeting weekly or monthly.

Submitted by Linda Singer, Co-founder at www.workhoppers.com Where talented people find flexible work and savvy companies get LOCAL help on-demand.