We often forget the power of "face time." Call me old fashioned, but I believe that one-on-one conversation is still the best mode of communication as it encompasses all of the senses, develops solid relationships and builds trust. Email and text communication can be less effective as the receiver cannot read your body language and tone of voice, which often leads to misinterpretations and misunderstandings. It also limits your ability to interact spontaneously and can feel impersonal or abrupt.
Research backs this up. A Harvard Business Review study reported that 95% of the 2,300 professionals polled agreed that in-person meetings are essential in the development of successful and sustainable business relationships. As well, when it comes to "sealing the deal," 89% agreed that face-to-face meetings are game changing.
Here are three scenarios that should ideally occur in-person:
1. Providing feedback.
Both positive and negative feedback should be relayed face-to-face for maximum impact. If your feedback is of a sensitive nature it's even more important to meet in-person. For example, let's say that an employee is chronically late and you are concerned. Find a quiet space where you can talk and won't be disturbed. This way, you can get to the heart of the matter by expressing genuine concern in a way that honors the employee's privacy and reassures trust. If you had chosen to send an email inquiring about their lack of punctuality, it could come across as cold and possibly accusatory. The employee may not feel comfortable and become hesitant to share information that might assist your understanding of their situation.
2. Relaying significant company information.
It's always a good idea to practice open door communication, but it is particularly critical in times of uncertainty. If the information involves radical changes to the company such as downsizing, a reorganization of management or a merger -- it's in the company's best interest to hold open forum conversations to clearly communicate the information and be readily available to answer questions. Sensitive information sent via email leads to panic, unfounded gossip and misunderstandings.
3. Connecting to encourage creativity.
Face-to-face meetings focused on project planning, problem solving and creative sessions will always be the ideal catalyst of innovation. Many companies support working remotely, but whenever possible, in-person brainstorming sessions will bring about fresh ideas and provide a free form of exchange that can inspire new possibilities. Be sure to find time in your schedule for recurring face-to-face meetings whenever possible, particularly when working on major projects.
Face time -- and I'm not referring to the smartphone version -- still endures as the most authentic route to create lasting impact and strengthen workplace relationships.