Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Typeface vs. Face-to-Face

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first [the eyes].” Studies continue to show that nearly 90 percent of all successful communication is dependent on eye contact and movement, tone of voice, posture, hand gestures, dress, and facial expressions.

Components of human interaction

Both face-to-face and digital communications make up different components of human interactions. So, ask yourself the following questions to determine the most appropriate method: Do you need one- or two-way communication? Is the content confidential? Is speed an issue? Is a certain type of feedback needed or required? Is your communication formal or informal?  

Face-to-face (FTF)

Think for a moment about successful presidential candidates such as John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. All were known for their relaxed, personable, and approachable demeanors. Also-rans such as Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney had stiff body language. When Barack Obama debated Hillary Clinton, she chopped the air with one hand, then the other in order to make strong points. Obama raised his left hand, extended his index finger and thumb, and seized the moment to turn the tide of the conversation. He was thought to be less aggressive, more relaxed, and more approachable. Positive body language wins elections, wins employment, wins sales, and wins friends.
On a more personal level, perhaps you recall going into your favorite store where the people who worked there recognized you as you walked through the door. You knew each other’s names. You shared a welcoming smile, small talk, and often asked about each other’s families or recent holidays. Those brief personal meetings made you feel connected to each other in a very personal and emotional way. Personalization and emotions are what define our humanity. FTF communication is preferable when you need to

·        Have a give-and-take (two-way) conversation
·        Hash out an agreement or discuss sensitive issues
·        Seal a high-stakes deal
·        Have a confidential conversation
·        Make sure there are no misunderstandings
·        Build relationships and develop networks
·        Let people know they’re important
·        Build credibility and trust
·        Promote a positive climate
·        Encourage teamwork
·        Validate if people are in agreement
·        Communicate bad or negative news
·        Energize others

If an in-person, FTF connection isn’t possible, consider Skype, FaceTime, or any other technology where you have visual cues. A secondary option may be the phone; you can learn a lot more from a person’s voice than you can from a digital message.

Typeface (or digital technology)

In today’s society, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing people using their smartphones to text, tweet, email, and frequent social networks. We live in a world where communication through typeface is almost required. It provides for faster and more efficient ways to communicate. However, many professionals are complaining that our new digital skills have had a negative impact on our ability to communicate personally, clearly, and reflectively. Digital messages are abbreviated and impersonal. They are often thoughtless and lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and drama among friends and colleagues. People have tried to simulate facial expressions by adding emoticons, bold, color, italics, and avatars, but none of them can replace the message you get by seeing someone’s facial expressions. Digital communication is preferable when you need to

·        Send a quick reminder
·        Confirm details of a complex FTF or phone meeting
·        Make a straightforward request and announcement
·        Share information that doesn’t require a discussion
·        Communicate after your normal business hours across the continent or globe
·        Schedule meetings
·        Create a permanent record or paper trail
·        Ask a quick question
·        Give a simple answer
·        Get something out quickly when FTF may take too long to arrange
·        Send a thank you (And don’t forget handwritten notes for special occasions.)

Perceiving body language

See how well versed you are in the art of reading body language. Although body language is often determined by culture, what hints do the items in the numbered list suggest in the United States? Select from Aggressive, Defensive, Nervous, Bored, Interested, or Confident.

1.      Firm handshake                 
2.      Overly firm handshake       
3.      Weak handshake               
4.      Drumming fingers               
5.      Crossed arms or legs                     
6.      Avoiding eye contact                     
7.      Downcast eyes                  
8.      Standing too close             
9.      Leaning slightly in               
10.    Leaning slightly away                     
11.    Looking at clock                
12.    Hunched shoulders            
13.    Hand to cheek                               
14.    Confident stance                
15.    Finger pointing                   
16.    Tilted head                        
17.    Prolonged tilted head                     
18.    Brisk, erect walk               

Answers: A-C, 2-A, 3-N, 4-B, 5-D, 6-N, 7-D, 8-A, 9-I, 10-D, 11-B, 12-D, 13-I, 14-I, 15-A, 16-I, 17-D, 18-C.

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