Wise words from Bob.

I work in communications (yes, yes, yes – we all know this – *rolls eyes* – move on!) ergo I love to communicate.  I think that I was born to live in the communication age.  I’m a prolific texter.  I tweet, IM and chat.  I  blog too.  I don’t actually know what I did before email.  Or indeed the invention of the t’interweb.

However I came to a conclusion recently that it’s a little sad that I don’t talk – that I mostly type.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t sit in the corner like a deaf (and slightly rabid) mute just thumping away on a keyboard or mobile phone.  That wouldn’t be a good look.

I do however avoid speaking with people on occasion and do the tip-tap-tippety-tap-tap thing instead of actually picking up the phone / planting myself on the end of someone’s desk or (heaven forbid) actually talking to someone face-to-face.  Poor show I know.

We sell video conferencing at work – and obviously we eat our own dog food – therefore we use it.  A lot.  I’ve been having some *challenges* with a colleague who doesnt work in the same office as me. We’ve been playing ping pong via email and it was going nowhere fast – so I wanted to talk to her, and decided the best way would be via video conference.

E-mail, of course, is a wonderful creation: it’s quick and convenient, we can stay in touch with loads of people we would never normally see or call. It enables us to accomplish huge amounts of work collaboratively too.  Really important when like me you work as part of a virtual team.

Face-to-face interaction is full of information. We can work out so much about what’s going on not only from tone and facial expressions, but also from the other person’s body language, pacing and mirroring.

The drawback with email (and to a lesser extent texting, IM and chat etc.) is that the sender internally *hears* emotional overtones when typing, although there’s little chance that any of these cues will be picked up by the recipient.

Proof point: I’ve written what I think are some hilarious / perceptive / insightful emails over the years only to have them fall on deaf ears…  Gah.  (Well, maybe that’s not really a proof point. Although I like to think it is.)

When we talk – on the phone or face-to-face – your brain picks up on all those subconscious cues. But when we send e-mail, there’s no clear sign posts marking out the little emotional nuances.  Therefore an email can easily be misconstrued and can lead to miscommunication or indeed exacerbate an issue, rather than resolving it.

Back to the matter at hand – my challenge with my colleague. After 5 minutes or so on said video conference we’d effectively resolved our differences, agreed on how to best work together moving forward and had a bit of a mutual love in. Job done.  Tidy.

Proof indeed if it was needed that Bob was right; it’s good to talk.

This isnt exactly rocket science though is it? However I know that I’ve been guilty recently of shutting myself away in email / text / IM / chat / blog land, whereas I should just bite the bullet and just go and have a chat.  Sometimes it makes life a LOT easier…

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