Divergent CIO

An innovative, transformative, and digital leader experienced in Technology and Executive Leadership

Why Face-to-Face Interaction and Communication are so Important

Why Face-to-Face Interaction and Communication are so ImportantA colleague of mine recently shared an experience she had at her doctor's office. When she walked up to the window to check in, the young receptionist motioned with her finger pointing to the iPad on the counter and said, "please check in here," without taking her eyes off her cell phone. My colleague began asking her a couple of questions about the check-in process and the young gal remained fixated on her cell phone without once making eye contact during the verbal exchange.

Today's generation is socially challenged with the constant distraction of electronic devices and social media dominating our everyday lives. Does the convenience and pervasiveness of technology excuse poor basic human behavior? Certainly not. So how can we be more thoughtful and courteous to those around us?

Critical Social Skills Component

Face-to-face communication is an integral piece of the social skills puzzle. It's time to get back to basics with clear and precise communication -- something that has been lost little by little as technology such as smart phones, texting and email have permeated today's society. There's a lot you can glean from looking someone in the eyes, and a lot that can be missed if you don't. There's a personal connection there that you just can't get over the phone, via text or even FaceTime. It's so personal, in fact, that many of today's young people shy away from such an intimate display of human interaction.

Your clothing, hair accessories, posture and gestures can all convey a deep meaning, but it's your eyes that send messages as well, and failure to maintain solid eye contact with an associate, client or boss can prevent you from building critical business relationships, says Inc. Eye contact cues are subtle, to be sure, but they can make all the difference when trying to read the other party's emotions, from approval to disdain to any other emotion on the spectrum that can't be determined from an email.

A business venture or collaboration, such as negotiating a merger or even asking your boss for a raise, can balance precariously on how you handle a face-to-face conversation. You wouldn't ask for that raise with your face in your phone, and you certainly wouldn't negotiate a big business deal or merger over email. That's why the personal connection is crucial for conducting insightful discussions of mutual interest -- something that was just par for the course before the telephone was even invented, points out ToughNickel. The art of conversation has largely been lost, dragging down our social skills in the process.

Tips for Meaningful Face-to-Face Conversations

There are many benefits that come with face-to-face human interaction, resulting in encounters and relationships that can't be achieved remotely. From visual feedback and cultural differences to body language and eye contact, it becomes easy to understand the true value of what another is saying when you meet in person. Not only do face-to-face meetings build stronger, more meaningful business relationships, they allow for better social opportunities to bond with clients and coworkers. In addition, these meetings boost the ability to read body language and facial expressions as well as interpret nonverbal communication signals, says the Houston Chronicle. Recent studies have shown that face-to-face communication is optimal when it comes to persuasion, leadership, engagement, inspiration, decision-making, accountability and reaching a consensus.

If you have been finding that your face-to-face interaction skills are starting to erode, here are some ways you can make the most of your in-person meetings:

  • Pay attention to visual feedback.
  • Listen to what's being said and ask questions if you don't understand something.
  • If you are the one speaking, pay attention to body language that might indicate disinterest or confusion.
  • If you sense disinterest or confusion, respond to those visual cues by switching gears, or giving the other person the floor.

Just like any muscle, these skills take practice. From sales to customer service to board room meetings, face-to-face communication is vital in keeping the pulse of human interaction pumping. Let's not lose sight of what's truly important in business and in personal relationships as well: communication and connection. That's what drives progress and success, something that can't be achieved when hiding behind a phone.

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Creating Highly Effective Teams

LeadershipWhen you think of a team, you think of many different people working together to form a focused cohesive unit. Whether on the ball field on in the board room, teams are an integral component to success. And while individual performance does impact the outcome of the team's efforts, no one person should be greater than the sum of all parts. In a perfect world, this makes sense. In the real world, however, a lot of work has to go on behind the scenes to be the manager of such a well-oiled team. Personal agendas, misguided focus, and just plain laziness often get in the way that can derail the group and prevent it from reaching its goals.

That's why a leader is needed to help hone and create an effective team through a variety of approaches, from clear communication to engagement. Let's take a look at some of those in more detail.


Engage Your Team
As leader, your job is to guide your employees in their overall mission, then step back and let them mature as a solid entity as they take on new and expansive roles and responsibilities. Giving each person his own responsibility and vision empowers individuals, which benefits the team as a whole. Your employees crave the feeling of being valued and challenged, and they are eager to be trusted with the freedom to explore and learn while on the job. A few things you can do:

 

  • Detect and encourage the most positive capabilities in each person.
  • Stop micromanaging and start empowering teammates to discover their full potential. Micromanagement leads to disengagement.
  • Stage them in a position of influence.
  • Share your successes while making them feel an integral part of that accomplishment.
  • Ditch the mind games and be consistent with your approach and style. Have your employees' backs.


Stay Connected
One big reason teams fall apart and lose focus is that they feel disconnected from each other. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to keep people connected, via internal social networks and video conferencing solutions, so team members can get a better sense of how their individual contributions impact their team and the organization as a whole, says Forbes. That's why an investment by your company in these technologies is crucial in an effort to offer flexible work environments that further foster employee engagement.

 

Know Each Team Member's Strengths
An added benefit of the above-mentioned technology is that managers and leaders can more readily keep their fingers on the pulse of the organization in an effort to stay on top of what motivates and inspires employees. However, all the technology in the world won't help you really get to know what makes each person on the team tick. That comes from one-on-one observance, open collaboration, and a healthy rapport between yourself and each team member.

 

Communicate and Set Goals
Frequent communication is key to keeping everyone on track and focused. Check in daily for an overview of progress, make it clear your door is always open, and encourage the free flow of ideas within meetings. Setting clear, focused and attainable goals is another piece of the puzzle. Without them, your team can easily get distracted from the mission, causing time delays and frustration.

Creating highly effective teams doesn't happen overnight. Through collaboration, engagement, communication and goal setting, you can manage a team to success!

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