Every movement begins with a moment.

Exploring the Ancient Art of Face-to-Face Communication

Posted 12 April 2016 9:00 AM by Ann Masters @MoxieUSA

Something crazy happened the other day. I had a discussion with someone — like an in-person talky-type thing — about an awards entry I was working on. We had been emailing back and forth about said entry when my colleague emailed me this question, “Want to give me a quick call? … Might just be helpful to talk through vs. an email.” I’ll see your suggestion for a phone call, I thought, and raise you the offer of an in-person discussion. “How about if I wander over and we talk through where I am?” I asked. “Might be faster?” She replied with punctuated enthusiasm: “Sounds good! Come on over!”

From here, the story only gets all the more insane.

Leveraging my ability to ambulate, I walked over to her desk. We talked through the awards entry — made a few changes, here and there — and ten minutes later, we were all set. That is the power of an old-school chitchat. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value and convenience of email and other forms of e-communication, especially in a world where nouns like ping, text, CC and IM double as verbs. There’s also telecommuting, teleconferencing and teleporting (I joke) to consider. People can work from anywhere so long as they can get online. Yet it’s no mistake that we call these folks “remote.” Because that is what they are: distant, physically isolated and far, far away.

Thanks to technology, we’ve never been more simultaneously connected and disconnected as humans. Aside from the slew of meetings (that’s a whole other blog) that most folks endure every day, we rarely collaborate face to face. And now that there are “connected workplace” platforms like Slack and Facebook at Work coming into play, we may never have to truly talk with each other again.

I admit that I’m exaggerating a bit. Yet you also have to admit that, more often than not, email is the default form of communication. And I’m not saying we should ditch it. I’m simply saying this: The next time you need to communicate with someone — before you mindlessly click “new email” — first ask yourself if it would be more productive and efficient to start that communication in person. If the answer is yes, then simply click “schedule new meeting”— ha! Just kidding! — DO NOT DO THAT. Instead, walk over to where that person sits and talk to him or her. Sure, the effort may prove fruitless. You may arrive at an empty desk, forcing you to turn heel and return to your own desk and compose that email after all. But maybe your message says this: “I have a few questions for you about [insert name of super-important project here]. I think it would be easier to talk through them. Can we get together for a quick chat today?”

Making the effort makes a huge difference, I promise. And I can say that from personal experience. In fact, you should swing by my desk sometime and we can talk about it.

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