Face-to-Face Conversation Is Important for Success
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 have 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.
Let's look at the benefits and the techniques of face-to-face communication. I'll describe methods of having a meaningful conversation.
Social Skills Are Lost Without Direct Contact
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.
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.
Communication via letters, text or email is not as effective as face-to-face discussions because the sentiment underneath the words cannot be felt.
People need to be face-to-face so they can see each other’s reactions. Words can be misconstrued via text because it leaves out the other means of communication that is so important with understanding, such as body language.
In a face-to-face confrontation, one can see non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, body posture, and gestures. This conveys information that is not detected from words alone.
Nonverbal and Visual Communication
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 is only possible in face-to-face conversations because of the advantage of seeing one's body language and having eye contact.
Hand gestures are a very common additional aspect to verbal communication. However, 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 our modern-day society in which we live, and it causes people to lose the ability to function in a face-to-face environment.
Awkward Silence with Lull in a 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 is 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 you're 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.
Face-To-Face in Business and Personal Encounters
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?
This is especially helpful in a sales interaction, for example, 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.
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.
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.
© 2012 Glenn Stok