Thursday, December 30, 2010

Value of Face-to-Face Communication

A strong business case has been made for using web conferences, video conferences, and other technologies to achieve significant cost savings and flexibility for employers and their employees. However, there is still much research and discussion to support the value and preference for face-to-face business communication. According to the Forbes Insight Survey, 87 percent of the 750 business executives surveyed said they prefer face-to-face communication to virtual meetings.

Here are a few key advantages of face-to-face communication, as it relates to the workplace setting.

In-person meetings go deeper. Sitting across from others and making eye contact provides greater insight into how they are reacting to the information you’re discussing. Direct eye contact also fosters trust. Face-to-face communication is vital in the give-and-take required when dealing with complex business communications. These meetings are particularly beneficial for negotiating, persuading, consensus-building, and decision-making.

Stronger relationships develop. Spending time over dinner or at the café provides a unique opportunity to cement meaningful relationships with clients and maintain productive relationships with co-workers. By getting to know your clients and colleagues on a personal level, you will be more apt to build stronger bonds.

Body language counts. You are in a stronger position to gauge reactions when you meet, greet, and shake hands. Using all five senses is a more accurate way for “reading” another person.

In data-oriented presentations or cases where vast amounts of information are being disseminated, video or web conferences may be the way to go. The bottom line, though, is that you should think of technology as a tool, rather than as a replacement for face-to-face communication. That way, you are in a better position to discern which type of communication will more effectively serve your business needs.

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