The Importance of Face-to-face Connecting

Reviewed Jun 22, 2016

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Summary

When face-to-face, we can:

  • Make eye contact, smile and connect with a firm handshake.
  • Gain trust.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the relationship.

Human beings are a social species. We are designed for face-to-face communication. We are wired to read facial expressions and body language on a near subconscious level. When we laugh together, smile at one another, shake hands, or share a meal, we bond on a primal level that cannot be replaced by electronic communication. We literally take in many cues from our various senses—sight, sound, feel, taste, and smell—when we interact face-to-face. There’s even scientific proof that we react to and process the scent of others on a subconscious or unconscious chemical level.

All this various sensory information lets us make better assessments of people and situations and establish lasting bonds. It’s the kind of information not accessible to us electronically.

Phone contact and video conferencing help somewhat—we can hear the tone of someone’s voice or interpret a fleeting look or gesture onscreen—but neither will ever replace the warmth and bonding of in-person communication.

The positives of face-to-face communication

Think of face-to-face interactions as the glue that cements any relationship—work or personal. When face-to-face, we can:

  • Make eye contact—to show our sincerity, to establish a firm connection, and to look into the “soul” of another person.
  • Smile—and in general, give and receive cues from each other’s facial expressions.
  • Connect with a firm handshake or another physical touch or gesture appropriate for the situation.
  • Listen—Only in face-to-face meetings can we show that we’re listening and see if others are truly listening to us.
  • Gather information. When we’re with someone in an office, a car, a restaurant, or their home, we can see and hear and respond to a variety of outside prompts that will open the door to more opportunities and provide clues to a person’s personality, attitudes, and lifestyle.
  • Get better feedback. Face-to-face, we are much better able to gauge someone’s response and determine whether they’re being honest or not.

Even people who are very good at written communication need to schedule face-to-face interactions with important business associates, relatives, and friends, as we tend to trust and turn to those we see regularly. Dealing with someone solely by digital communication sends the message, intended or not, that she is not that important. There’s something cold and distant about it, which is why it’s easier to deliver bad news or blow off someone electronically, whether we’re rejecting a business offer or declining a party invitation.

If we never meet someone face-to-face, they will, in some ways, be a stranger and, thus, easier to dismiss. Make sure you schedule a certain amount of face time when you want:

  • An ongoing business relationship, not just a periodic filling of orders
  • An ongoing personal relationship
  • People to know you in all your complexity, and when you truly want to get to know them
  • To address complicated or sensitive issues
  • To motivate people and share enthusiasm
  • To network and meet new people or customers
  • To maintain friendships
  • To share personal information

Misunderstandings

It’s hard to convey emotion and tone in email and texts despite our attempts to give hints with various emoticons and chat-speak. Often, the attitude or intent behind the words is lost in translation, and misunderstandings occur. Shy people may come off as cold, succinct people may come off as rude (think of those who give one-word replies), and funny people may come off as insensitive. Sarcasm is especially tricky and should be avoided unless you know your recipient well.

This is another advantage of meeting business associates and online friends face-to-face on occasion. Seeing them in-person will give you ed insight into their personality and current situation—do they look sick, tired, happy, stressed? This will help you craft your emails or texts to them and read between the lines of theirs.  

Make the effort

In addition to fortifying relationships, regular personal encounters help ward off depression and its many ill effects. Remember, we are wired to belong, to feel like part of the tribe. So stop hiding behind your smartphone and make the effort to schedule:

  • Lunches, dinners, and events with significant friends, relatives, and business associates
  • Seasonal or annual trips to meet important clients, business partners, friends, and relatives
  • Fun and revitalizing bonding experiences—camping trips, team-building exercises, weekend getaways, and/or sporting events, concerts, art shows, etc.
  • Business, social, and/or hobby-related meetings and conferences
  • Continuing education classes for work or pleasure

If you telecommute, schedule regular face-time with co-workers. If you find yourself isolated by working at home or in a quiet cubicle, take your laptop or tablet to the lunch room or local coffee shop and interact with others.

Resources

Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World by Susan RoAne, Touchstone, 2008.

Savvy Networking by Andrea Nierenberg, Capital Books, 2007.

By Amy Fries

Summary

When face-to-face, we can:

  • Make eye contact, smile and connect with a firm handshake.
  • Gain trust.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the relationship.

Human beings are a social species. We are designed for face-to-face communication. We are wired to read facial expressions and body language on a near subconscious level. When we laugh together, smile at one another, shake hands, or share a meal, we bond on a primal level that cannot be replaced by electronic communication. We literally take in many cues from our various senses—sight, sound, feel, taste, and smell—when we interact face-to-face. There’s even scientific proof that we react to and process the scent of others on a subconscious or unconscious chemical level.

All this various sensory information lets us make better assessments of people and situations and establish lasting bonds. It’s the kind of information not accessible to us electronically.

Phone contact and video conferencing help somewhat—we can hear the tone of someone’s voice or interpret a fleeting look or gesture onscreen—but neither will ever replace the warmth and bonding of in-person communication.

The positives of face-to-face communication

Think of face-to-face interactions as the glue that cements any relationship—work or personal. When face-to-face, we can:

  • Make eye contact—to show our sincerity, to establish a firm connection, and to look into the “soul” of another person.
  • Smile—and in general, give and receive cues from each other’s facial expressions.
  • Connect with a firm handshake or another physical touch or gesture appropriate for the situation.
  • Listen—Only in face-to-face meetings can we show that we’re listening and see if others are truly listening to us.
  • Gather information. When we’re with someone in an office, a car, a restaurant, or their home, we can see and hear and respond to a variety of outside prompts that will open the door to more opportunities and provide clues to a person’s personality, attitudes, and lifestyle.
  • Get better feedback. Face-to-face, we are much better able to gauge someone’s response and determine whether they’re being honest or not.

Even people who are very good at written communication need to schedule face-to-face interactions with important business associates, relatives, and friends, as we tend to trust and turn to those we see regularly. Dealing with someone solely by digital communication sends the message, intended or not, that she is not that important. There’s something cold and distant about it, which is why it’s easier to deliver bad news or blow off someone electronically, whether we’re rejecting a business offer or declining a party invitation.

If we never meet someone face-to-face, they will, in some ways, be a stranger and, thus, easier to dismiss. Make sure you schedule a certain amount of face time when you want:

  • An ongoing business relationship, not just a periodic filling of orders
  • An ongoing personal relationship
  • People to know you in all your complexity, and when you truly want to get to know them
  • To address complicated or sensitive issues
  • To motivate people and share enthusiasm
  • To network and meet new people or customers
  • To maintain friendships
  • To share personal information

Misunderstandings

It’s hard to convey emotion and tone in email and texts despite our attempts to give hints with various emoticons and chat-speak. Often, the attitude or intent behind the words is lost in translation, and misunderstandings occur. Shy people may come off as cold, succinct people may come off as rude (think of those who give one-word replies), and funny people may come off as insensitive. Sarcasm is especially tricky and should be avoided unless you know your recipient well.

This is another advantage of meeting business associates and online friends face-to-face on occasion. Seeing them in-person will give you ed insight into their personality and current situation—do they look sick, tired, happy, stressed? This will help you craft your emails or texts to them and read between the lines of theirs.  

Make the effort

In addition to fortifying relationships, regular personal encounters help ward off depression and its many ill effects. Remember, we are wired to belong, to feel like part of the tribe. So stop hiding behind your smartphone and make the effort to schedule:

  • Lunches, dinners, and events with significant friends, relatives, and business associates
  • Seasonal or annual trips to meet important clients, business partners, friends, and relatives
  • Fun and revitalizing bonding experiences—camping trips, team-building exercises, weekend getaways, and/or sporting events, concerts, art shows, etc.
  • Business, social, and/or hobby-related meetings and conferences
  • Continuing education classes for work or pleasure

If you telecommute, schedule regular face-time with co-workers. If you find yourself isolated by working at home or in a quiet cubicle, take your laptop or tablet to the lunch room or local coffee shop and interact with others.

Resources

Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World by Susan RoAne, Touchstone, 2008.

Savvy Networking by Andrea Nierenberg, Capital Books, 2007.

By Amy Fries

Summary

When face-to-face, we can:

  • Make eye contact, smile and connect with a firm handshake.
  • Gain trust.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the relationship.

Human beings are a social species. We are designed for face-to-face communication. We are wired to read facial expressions and body language on a near subconscious level. When we laugh together, smile at one another, shake hands, or share a meal, we bond on a primal level that cannot be replaced by electronic communication. We literally take in many cues from our various senses—sight, sound, feel, taste, and smell—when we interact face-to-face. There’s even scientific proof that we react to and process the scent of others on a subconscious or unconscious chemical level.

All this various sensory information lets us make better assessments of people and situations and establish lasting bonds. It’s the kind of information not accessible to us electronically.

Phone contact and video conferencing help somewhat—we can hear the tone of someone’s voice or interpret a fleeting look or gesture onscreen—but neither will ever replace the warmth and bonding of in-person communication.

The positives of face-to-face communication

Think of face-to-face interactions as the glue that cements any relationship—work or personal. When face-to-face, we can:

  • Make eye contact—to show our sincerity, to establish a firm connection, and to look into the “soul” of another person.
  • Smile—and in general, give and receive cues from each other’s facial expressions.
  • Connect with a firm handshake or another physical touch or gesture appropriate for the situation.
  • Listen—Only in face-to-face meetings can we show that we’re listening and see if others are truly listening to us.
  • Gather information. When we’re with someone in an office, a car, a restaurant, or their home, we can see and hear and respond to a variety of outside prompts that will open the door to more opportunities and provide clues to a person’s personality, attitudes, and lifestyle.
  • Get better feedback. Face-to-face, we are much better able to gauge someone’s response and determine whether they’re being honest or not.

Even people who are very good at written communication need to schedule face-to-face interactions with important business associates, relatives, and friends, as we tend to trust and turn to those we see regularly. Dealing with someone solely by digital communication sends the message, intended or not, that she is not that important. There’s something cold and distant about it, which is why it’s easier to deliver bad news or blow off someone electronically, whether we’re rejecting a business offer or declining a party invitation.

If we never meet someone face-to-face, they will, in some ways, be a stranger and, thus, easier to dismiss. Make sure you schedule a certain amount of face time when you want:

  • An ongoing business relationship, not just a periodic filling of orders
  • An ongoing personal relationship
  • People to know you in all your complexity, and when you truly want to get to know them
  • To address complicated or sensitive issues
  • To motivate people and share enthusiasm
  • To network and meet new people or customers
  • To maintain friendships
  • To share personal information

Misunderstandings

It’s hard to convey emotion and tone in email and texts despite our attempts to give hints with various emoticons and chat-speak. Often, the attitude or intent behind the words is lost in translation, and misunderstandings occur. Shy people may come off as cold, succinct people may come off as rude (think of those who give one-word replies), and funny people may come off as insensitive. Sarcasm is especially tricky and should be avoided unless you know your recipient well.

This is another advantage of meeting business associates and online friends face-to-face on occasion. Seeing them in-person will give you ed insight into their personality and current situation—do they look sick, tired, happy, stressed? This will help you craft your emails or texts to them and read between the lines of theirs.  

Make the effort

In addition to fortifying relationships, regular personal encounters help ward off depression and its many ill effects. Remember, we are wired to belong, to feel like part of the tribe. So stop hiding behind your smartphone and make the effort to schedule:

  • Lunches, dinners, and events with significant friends, relatives, and business associates
  • Seasonal or annual trips to meet important clients, business partners, friends, and relatives
  • Fun and revitalizing bonding experiences—camping trips, team-building exercises, weekend getaways, and/or sporting events, concerts, art shows, etc.
  • Business, social, and/or hobby-related meetings and conferences
  • Continuing education classes for work or pleasure

If you telecommute, schedule regular face-time with co-workers. If you find yourself isolated by working at home or in a quiet cubicle, take your laptop or tablet to the lunch room or local coffee shop and interact with others.

Resources

Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World by Susan RoAne, Touchstone, 2008.

Savvy Networking by Andrea Nierenberg, Capital Books, 2007.

By Amy Fries

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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