Psychotherapist Esther Perel shares the challenges we encounter when connecting in this digital age. She argues that we have never been more accessible to each other and spend most days communicating virtually via text messages, emails and video conferencing. The issue is we don't speak to each other as often, either in person or via the phone.
I agree with Esther, communication has become diluted, and the impact is topical conversations and relationships that could be much deeper and meaningful. Technology is only the conduit to connection, and picking up the phone and having a one-on-one conversation is key.
Since the pandemic, I have noticed a real shift in how people communicate. There seems to be a lack of communication via phone and a heavy reliance on text messages, emails and Zoom calls.
Our communication habits have changed, and unfortunately, avoiding face-to-face and phone conversations has become ingrained behaviour for many.
As human beings, we all have a preferred style of communication. Whilst I'm the first to embrace the new virtual world of work, there is nothing like having a phone conversation and speaking real words in real time. This helps us to deeply connect and be present and often avoids the downward spiral of miscommunication.
Research shows that the younger generation has developed what is called “phone anxiety” due to simply never speaking on the phone. I will say I am encountering many adults, especially in the corporate world, exhibiting the same behaviour. Only last week, a client wanted to connect and said we should do a Zoom call or email, to which I replied, let's pick up the phone and do a walk and talk.
While meeting up to talk to someone is necessary, it was also seen as time-consuming. Today, a simple email or text message might suffice over a coffee break or phone call to catch up, but don't make this your default communication style. We need to talk, in real time, to our peers, teams, suppliers, and customers.
We can't deny that the rise of electronic communication has led to a change in how workplace interactions happen. Electronic communication is convenient, but as with most things that are easy, it has significant drawbacks when we compare it to real-world liaisons.
In many cases, electronic communication simply doesn't work. If you are dealing with a pressing issue or needing to discuss a sensitive topic, we need to engage in a face-to-face interaction or a phone call. In cases like this, emotions can be amplified and misread when communicating via email, text messages and even video conferencing. We all have different perspectives on things and talking, whether face to face or via phone, gives everyone the best chance to express their interpretation and seek clarity.
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So why should we pick up the phone more often?
- It has been scientifically proven that vocal communication helps to build stronger connections between people
- It brings the human element of connection to the conversation, especially if discussing a pressing issue or dealing with complexity or conflict
- It creates an open forum to ask questions and seek clarity, then and there
- The tonality, pitch, and pace of voice can be heard; this is often missed in emails and text messages
- Having 1:1 conversations can create a safe space for people to open up and share things they may not share in emails and recorded messages
- A phone call can save time. It occurs in real time with little follow up if communication is clear and both parties understand the message
When should we pick up the phone:
- If you are looking to strengthen connections and build trust
- Promote dialogue and input from others
- When dealing with emotional topics or issues to clarify
- When forging and building on deeper and more meaningful interactions and relationships
Take the time to reflect on how you communicate with your peers, your team, external suppliers, and customers.
How can picking up the phone strengthen the quality of conversations and connection for you?
I'd love to hear your feedback and ideas on this article.
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