While catching up on some reading, I came across the articles below and they got me thinking about some important social graces that I thought were lost. It seems that with the help of technology some of them might be making a comeback.
Over the last couple of decades we have become a society that doesn’t have the kind of face to face social interaction that prior generations of professionals did. Since we don’t have this face to face contact I fear that some of the etiquette and social graces surrounding the business meeting have been lost. We’ve all heard the phrase “if you don’t use it you will lose it” and I believe that applies here. At one time the only way to effectively exchange ideas was to get together and discuss them. Today we receive an email with a list of pertinent data in it. While this may be more time efficient than having a meeting, it can cause misunderstandings between the parties involved.
Who hasn’t had an issue with the tone of an email or text being misunderstood? Sending emails back and forth asking the other person to elaborate is time consuming and can cause additional misunderstandings. Having multiple people on the email can have people running off in different directions trying to accomplish the same task and wasting time & resources. A phone call usually helps but even then you’re not always sure if the other person is truly listening and understanding or if they are distracted. With the help of social sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook we are connecting with people around the world. Yet some of us hardly ever see our colleagues in a face to face environment. Sure you may know what restaurant they went to last night because of a status update you saw. But when was the last time you communicated in person? The last time you exchanged ideas did you see the expression on their face, watch their body language and hear the tone of their voice or was it simply some words on a screen?
What if there was a balance of efficiency and face to face contact? Video calls seem to be the solution for both of these. You can see the other person and yet you don’t have to leave your desk. Video calls aren’t something seen just in the movies anymore. Video calls are common place and yet many people still don’t realize how this is changing the way we do business. We are conducting job interviews, business meetings and client presentations all via technology that helps us communicate as if we were in the same room. This technology allows us to hear the tone of the person’s voice, while seeing facial expressions and body language that helps us exchange ideas without having to leave our offices. We can have meetings with our colleagues in other cities without the expense of travel. We can have an impromptu meeting with our virtual employees without any of the hassle of booking a conference room and waiting for them to come to the office.
With this ability to virtually look each other in the face we are seeing a rebirth in some of the social graces that I feared were lost. In a future post I will provide suggestions on how to make a great impression during your next video call. In the meantime, consider the impression you are currently giving, brush up on your social graces and be prepared for your next video call.