What Happens When Business Communication Gets Impersonal? Part I

“I hope he doesn’t answer so I can leave a voice mail.”

Have you ever said this to yourself? I have. Communications technology is wonderful and I enjoy the freedom it brings. I’m able to quickly communicate with people from all over the world at all hours of the day or night.

But what are we losing in the process of multiple methods of communication? Is technology so pervasive that we are heading toward a time when there’s no place for live conversation, small talk and the nuance that person-to-person interaction brings?

In many ways I fear that time is already here.

According to Kira Makagon, EVP of Innovation for RingCentral, employee desire for freedom and flexibility in the workplace is driving and enabling a lot of the trends we see in business communication today. Among those trends are:

  • Use of multiple devices
  • Demand for instant communication
  • The fall of face-to-face communication
  • Wider adoption of internal communication systems

The fall of face-to-face communication begs to be addressed. Often, when wanting to communicate a business message, most of us default to technology: email, texting, phone conferencing, instant messaging, posting on social media. Yes, we gain speed, but what are we losing?

Electronic communication robs us of the richness and fullness of the message. When I can’t see you but can only hear or read what you are communicating, I am missing some of the important context of your message.

Take email. You write a short, direct response to an email you received. But then you get to thinking: will the reader misinterpret my message? Is it too strong? You can waste a good bit of energy second-guessing yourself.

The person who reads your email can’t hear your voice. There are no nonverbal cues shared in an email. There’s very little nuance. And trust me when I say: most attempts at being cute or playfully sarcastic in an email (unless you know the person well) will likely backfire!

We’ll talk more about fall of face-to-face communication in the next blog.

(Some information from a recent survey conducted by uSamp Research on behalf of RingCentral and published in Business Communications are “Always On” in 2015) http://www.cmswire.com/cms/social-business/4-trends-in-workplace-communication-infographic-027762.php