Face-to-Face Conversation Is Important for Success

Updated on August 3, 2017
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok has strategic management skills in organization, planning, and policy development. He managed his own business over 35 years.

Clear and precise communication sometimes requires face-to-face discussions.
Clear and precise communication sometimes requires face-to-face discussions. | Source

Proper face-to-face communication is an important part of our social skills. Clear and precise communication is necessary for success in many human endeavors.

In today's society, face-to-face conversations has become less frequent due to technology such as email, texting and cell phones.

Avoiding direct contact is a detriment to successful communication. Failure to miss things such as the sense of approval from facial expressions can result in missed opportunities.

A face-to-face conversation is an absolute requirement for collaborating on a business venture or for asking one's boss for a raise. You wouldn't even consider asking for a job promotion without doing it face-to-face, would you?

A face-to-face conversation is also useful for having insightful discussions of mutual interest. Before the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, people had no choice but to get together when they wanted to have a conversation. Social skills were enhanced since people were accustomed to the art of conversation.

Today people are losing their social skills because of the ease of quick correspondence by telephone, smartphone, email, instant messaging, and texting.

People call one another when they need a quick answer to a question, or to schedule or confirm an appointment. People rarely call one another to have a meaningful conversation. They call to chat, but nothing that's really serious.

Let's look at the benefits and the techniques of face-to-face communication. I'll describe methods of having a meaningful conversation.

The Benefits of a Face-To-Face Conversation

Face-to-face conversations provide the ability to get to know one another in a way that cannot be achieved remotely.

Visual Feedback:

Body language adds to the verbal communication when having a face-to-face conversation. There are many clues to how one feels about the discussion.

Sometimes one can even tell if the other person is not truthful by the way they handle eye contact. If eye contact is avoided, this may indicate that they are hiding something or that they are not being truthful.

However, cultural differences need to be taken into consideration too. In some cultures it is considered a sign of disrespect for a young person to make eye contact with an elder.

Nonverbal Communication:

Nonverbal communication is only possible in face-to-face conversations, such as body language and eye contact. This is especially helpful for understanding one another in a relationship.

Hand gestures are very common additional aspect to verbal communication when in the same room, face-to-face. But this may be a detriment to the communication if having a conversation with someone of a different culture.

For example, pointing at something with one finger is considered rude among Asians. It is similar to our middle finger salute. Asians usually point using their entire hand.

How Technology Affects Social Interaction

Before computers were used for communication, people used to get together at community gatherings to discuss public affairs and to make plans for social activities.

Today, with email, instant messaging, texting, and other methods of group communication that computer technology provides, people don’t need to leave the house or office any longer for community or company meetings.

The technology makes it so easy to communicate that people use it to share messages on social media sites and to send info via global mailing lists instead of getting together in real life.

This is part of the new culture we have and it causes people to lose the ability to function in a face-to-face environment.

Awkward Silence During Lull in the Conversation

Have you ever experienced those awkward moments when there is a lull in the conversation? When all of a sudden nobody seems to have anything further to say?

I find it can happen even when the conversation was flowing so well. But then suddenly nothing new is added and everyone just seems to go into a trance.

I usually am the one to break the silence when a lull in the conversation happens. I bring up anything new to talk about that comes to my mind just to keep the conversation going. The trick is not to think too much about it. Otherwise a longer period of silence occurs.

Whatever you think of to break the silence doesn't even have to be the same subject. Most people don't even notice that the subject has changed. And they just continue along the new thought path. I wonder if I'm the only one who knows what just happened when I do that?

Techniques for a Meaningful Face-to-Face Conversation

The advantages of face-to-face conversation outweigh the disadvantages as long as proper techniques are used.

  • Pay attention to visual feedback.

  • Hear what's being said and respond if you don't understand something.

  • As a speaker, pay attention to body language that might indicate disinterest or confusion.

Visual feedback is useful. It's useless to keep talking if you observe that the listener is not interested. They may be fidgeting or looking away. Respond to that appropriately by changing the topic or by giving the listener time to speak. This interaction makes a face-to-face conversation much more meaningful.

As a listener, show your are interested and have a desire to understand when you missed a point. If the speaker didn't make something clear, bring it up before it gets lost in further discussion. Ask questions, interject, but let the speaker complete a thought too.

Conversation in Corporate Culture and on a Personal Level

To have a successful outcome with a business decision, it's better to have a face-to-face conversation.

This is especially true in a sales interaction, where visual feedback of body language is so important. A top-notch salesperson uses body language to know how to proceed with a sales pitch.

Customer service is also best performed face-to-face, since all the visual cues can be picked up and responded to appropriately. A customer may be frustrated about a product or may have a service question. Visual feedback shows quickly if he or she understands the help being provided.

Personal conversations among friends is enhanced and appreciated when the same techniques I've described are used. When more meaning is derived from conversations with friends, one will want to get together more often for an enjoyable chat.

With the Internet and smartphones, too many people are hiding behind their devices. Let's not lose that important part of human communication that only face-to-face can provide.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Glenn Stok


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      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

        letstalkabouteduc - That's a very good point you made. In addition to knowing you got your message through when face to face, you also have the opportunity to see the response, facial expression, etc. This feedback is priceless.

      • letstalkabouteduc profile image

        McKenna Meyers 2 years ago from Bend, OR

        Yes, face-to-face is better, and I recently learned that the hard way. When I was having problems at work, I communicated with my boss in writing. I thought it was more professional and business-like. Besides, she could read it when she had time, absorb the contents, and then get back to me. There was one problem with this, though. I assumed she read what I had written, but she never had.. or, at least, not completely. When you communicate face-to-face, you know your message has been received and that's key. You can never be sure when you send a letter or e-mails that they were read or that the seriousness of the matter was conveyed.

      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

        LCDWriter - In some cultures it's not acceptable to look an elder in the eyes. Things are different everywhere. Thanks for sharing your feelings with me and for your comment.

      • LCDWriter profile image

        L C David 4 years ago from Florida

        I am painfully shy although I do a good job of covering it up most of the time.

        But I have a really hard time keeping eye contact when I'm talking to people--not really for any reason other than I find myself growing uncomfortable.

        This is great advice for anyone trying to have a good conversation using positive body language.

      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

        MsDora - You made some interesting and important points. Thanks for adding those additional advantages of face-to-face communication. And thanks for the vote up too.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

        Perhaps, we are old-fashioned who still believe in the importance of face-to-face communications. In addition to all that you said, how else can you enjoy the beauty of a smile, or the sense of approval from the wink of any eye (even in a business relationship)? Voted Up and Useful!

      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

        @dndswordsmith ~

        I know what you mean about how people can mistake text messages for what was meant. This is because they don't have the visual feedback or the auditory feedback that displays the speaker's emotions. So they have to interpret that from the text. Based on their own feelings and present moment experiences, they can very easily get that wrong.

        I appreciate your feedback, thanks.

      • dndswordsmith profile image

        Nique 5 years ago from Philadelphia County PA

        Thx Glenn

        You are correct. I had seen lack of communication happen a thousand times. At restaurants, clubs, office buildings, while driving even at work people tend have their face/noses searching the web, texting, messaging, facebooking etc. It can be very frustrating to know that customer service is so bad these days. Maybe technology is the reason why.

        Within a conversation I do feel the need to have face to face interaction. There has been plenty of times I'd sent text messages that had been mistaken as hostile. So I tend to try to talk things out, face to face when necessary.

        Nice piece!!