Are you Taking Advantage of its Full Potential?

Technology We Text…Email…Private Message…Tweet…Pin…Comment and communicate on all sorts of online posts and venues. Yet, far too often we forget all about a technical option that affords us the greatest of all in opportunities.

This technological wonder of all wonders actually allows us to hear another person’s voice—Yes! We can even listen to the tone of the person’s voice and pick up inflections that help us understand exactly what meaning the words hold for us. And the best part? They can hear us as well! This technology even allows us to communicate over vast distances in real time! We can ask a question and get an immediate answer—right on the spot!

Yes- I’m being sarcastic. But it’s a little too true, isn’t it? We’ve all become so wrapped up in the “new” technologies available today that we’ve forgotten an older one, one that at times, does a far better job of communication. The phone.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use these other avenues of communication. I’ll be the first to say that I like the fact that I can focus on work for a block of time and reply to emails at a more convenient time. I like being able to text people for a quick answer or confirmation. Sometimes it is a more productive use of time.

But sometimes it’s more productive to just Pick Up The Phone. What are some clues to remind of us of this point?

To answer that question, we must examine some of the reasons we have become so reliant on these other modes of communication.

Oft times we tend to use them to avoid conflict, shyness or even fear. We’ve been made to feel that it’s actually rude to pick up the phone and call someone without scheduling an appointment first. We’ve convinced ourselves that these newer technologies are more advanced, and thus expedient—more time efficient.

Are they really?

Let’s look at how time efficient they are.

How many of you have gone through 5-6 text messages back and forth with someone, trying to set up a meeting? What day…time…place…is there any parking nearby?

Or worse yet, how many email rounds have you made just to set up an appointment for—wait for it—a phone conversation?!

I’m just as guilty of this as the next person. Fortunately, I’m getting better at catching myself in this mode and stopping it – by picking up the phone and having a quick conversation – done!

But even worse than the time inefficiency issue is a more dangerous side effect—the increased opportunity to completely misconstrue someone’s email, text or Facebook message. How many times has that happened to you? How many emails or text messages were spent re-explaining something or defending your real meaning? Ever wonder how many times you’ve been misunderstood and no one said anything, so you missed the chance to clarify the issue?

All of this “behind the scenes” attempts at communication robs us of the opportunity to learn how to be authentic, even persuasive when speaking with someone in person. How can we gain insight into better communicating with our clients, colleagues, friends and family when we are continually creating an emotional distance from people? It’s unintended, but in reality we are telling people we don’t have time for them…there is a lack of friendliness, even civility.

I’ll never forget the scene I witnessed at a restaurant recently. Two of my writer girl friends and I were sitting at a table, deep in discussion about—what else—writing. We glanced over at the table next to us, where three young ladies sat. Each girl had her smart phone out–staring at the screen and giving it her full attention. They weren’t talking to each other at all. There was no sharing of ideas or excited conversation about recent discoveries. They were missing out on a perfect opportunity to learn from each other. But that is another discussion for another time.

Am I saying that we need to go back in time and not use these modern modes of communication?

Of course not.

But the next time you find yourself in a round of text messages —stop and think— would it be quicker to just make a call?

When you find yourself spending way too much time constructing an email because you don’t want it to be misunderstood—just stop—and pick up the phone. Make sure the person fully understands your intent.

If you have the wonderful opportunity to share time with someone, in person—this is the time to put down your techie devices and take full advantage of face to face time.

I believe it’s all about finding a balance—one that works for you.

So what’s your opinion on this subject? Do you agree?

Do you think I’m old-fashioned and just don’t understand how it is today? I would love to hear from you!