With numerous internet-based communication methods available these days, it’s possible to make introductions, build relationships and conduct business from the comfort of a chair at your favourite café. All whilst sipping a mint-infused decaf soy latte (or whichever obnoxious coffee order takes your fancy). Many people start their work day by checking emails or browsing social media. Maybe they’ll have a Skype conference or two after lunch, followed by some WhatsApp or WeChat messaging to see out the day. It’s all so easy that we never have to meet another person face-to-face again, right?… Wrong!
Relationships are the core of every business. Who we work with, and how we work them, is essential to our success. Unfortunately, with all the great interaction tools at our disposal, we can fall into the trap of building relationships from a distance. But long distance relationships are hard work. While we don’t have quantifiable data or a thesis study to back this up, we can say with certainty that face-to-face meetings yield the best results, and make the strongest relationships.
Here are five reasons why:
1. Issues Come To The Forefront
People don’t like to be wrong, admit mistakes or cause panic. When communicating from a distance, they often won’t reveal all the issues they might be facing. Instead, they’ll try to resolve problems alone, hoping to impress others and avoid causing grief. While this approach is understandable, it’s often counterproductive and can result in time and cost blow-outs. By meeting in person, and showing business partners that you are there to collaborate and help one another, you can resolve issues before they become major headaches. After overcoming one or two issues in a friendly and constructive manner, it becomes second nature.
2. Resolutions Are Timely
Email and other text communication is inherently slow when compared to simply speaking to one another. We structure our words carefully and try to convey our thoughts – but they may still be misinterpreted at the other end. In one short, verbal conversation, you can get your message across quickly and clarify any points that weren’t clear. Responses are instantaneous and resolution is more timely.
3. Non-verbal communication Is Important
After many years communicating with customers in China, some of who speak limited English (although they often know more English than we know Chinese), it’s amazing to see what non-verbal communication can achieve. Through hand gestures, facial expressions, prototypes, samples and drawings, you can effectively discuss complex ideas. Additionally, it’s easier to understand the context and mood of the person speaking, leaving less room for misinterpretation.
4. food and drink can promote connection
When meeting in person you’ll often share a meal or a drink together. It may be as simple as a coffee, or a five course dinner with drinks until the wee hours of the morning. Either way, it’s highly likely that you will share a meal or drink with your business partners when meeting face-to-face. People love to dine communally, often eating and drinking with those they are closest to. By extension, when you dine with business partners you promote a friendly, trusting environment. It encourages personal conversation, builds friendship and establishes trust. As a bonus, you can enjoy some amazing dining experiences during work hours!
5. It’s harder to get upset
In general, people want to be liked. They will often be on their best behaviour, and try to make sure the person they’re with feels liked, too. When both parties behave this way, communication flows naturally and it’s easy to get to know each other on a personal level. By comparison, email communication can be taken out of context, and lacks the same code of courtesy that face-to-face communication provides. With the added veil of anonymity the internet offers, it’s much easier for people to see the worst in others, and get upset or offended.
Having said all that, it’s important to note that modern communication methods certainly still have their place in the world. In some instances, a face-to-face meeting may be difficult or even impossible (think international clients). In these cases, Skype, WeChat or other video conference software makes great alternatives. We believe these tools can be used to enhance your communication capabilities, but that it’s important to remember they’re not a substitute for the best tool of all – face-to-face communication.
Why not give us a call to set up a meeting now.