Are face-to-face meetings still relevant in today’s society?
Speed is everything in today’s tech-driven business world. In an attempt to increase the pace even more, some business leaders are discarding face-to-face meetings in favour of the latest technology solutions. But this prioritization of speed over in-person meetings severely diminishes the power of human interaction and the value of face-to-face communication. If you’ve ever been on the bad side of cyber miscommunication, you’ll agree that faster isn’t always better.
Business is, in large part, about establishing relationships. To be successful, leaders must have a sound understanding of how their emotions and actions impact the people around them. You can’t make meaningful connections with others if you’re distracted. Many of us have obligations, and long to-do lists, but building and nurturing healthy relationships is crucial to one’s capability to gain higher emotional intelligence.
Personal relationships with customers through face to face meetings are critical to improving trust. Research shows that customers increasingly feel the need to see who they are working with, who is behind the business (and the emails) and feel like their business needs are truly understood. Once sat opposite someone, you can pick up visual cues and body language that can help you gauge the situation even better.
American writer Thomas Merton famously said, “The deepest level of communication is …wordless—beyond speech, beyond concept.” Whilst calls, email or text messages are adequate for the interchange of information, within a face-to-face meeting, there’s more that’s being exchanged than just words – emotions, feelings and non-verbal cues.
In fact, studies indicate that body language conveys up to 50 percent of what you want to say. Observing a person’s body language can help in understanding what they might really be feeling. This type of transparency not only builds trust as mentioned before but also allows you to tailor your pitch or idea so it is more likely to be received well.
Ideally, meeting in a physical location is best but not always a realistic option. In these situations opt-in to show your face during a Skype chat, webinar or teleconference. Remember, emphasising on the community side of business meetings, you’ve got more to provide than just words—otherwise, why else would you be holding a meeting instead of an email in the first place?
Despite what industry you work in, we are all in the people business. Face-to-face meetings are presently the most successful way to seize the attention of clients, capture them in the conversation, and manage productive collaboration. If we don’t continue to foster strong and positive personal relationships with our clients and coworkers, we won’t build trust, understanding, or a sense of a shared mission – all of which are critical elements to successful partnerships and business success.
So, whether it be through Skype, Google Hangouts or over a good, old-fashioned cup of coffee, the next time you need to conduct business, make it as much of an in-person interaction as possible.