As technology continues to evolve, the different ways to communicate are endless; the telephone, email, mobile phone, Skype and social media are integral to work life today. Yet despite this, there remains a strong argument that face-to-face is the best way to communicate.
Our outsourcing teams regularly call and email in their day-to-day tasks, but they build the best relationships with the clients they meet in person – it’s the same in the medical sales industry. Face-to-face interaction with consultants, nurses and GPs is very important to your success in the job, as it is when interviewing.
We interview all of our candidates face-to-face: it’s what our clients expect, and it’s invaluable when it comes to differentiating between candidates. You can learn more about a person meeting them physically than you ever could simply by communicating over telephone or email.
Advantages of face-to-face communication
An authority on body language, James Borg says that human communication consists of 93% body language and paralinguistic cues, while just 7% consists of words. Body language speaks a lot louder than words; you can gain a much better understanding of how a candidate or client is feeling than you would otherwise be able to through other forms of communication.
For many companies travel and meeting budgets were the first to get cut back when the recession hit but travelling to meet a client or candidate shows them that they’re worth your time and money, and vice versa. The more face-to-face communication you can have, the better. You’ll have their attention 100%, and your message is guaranteed to be heard.
In a survey by Forbes that spoke to 760 business executives, 84% preferred face-to-face communication. Of those, 85% said their reason was that it builds stronger, more meaningful business relationships. Respondents also said that face-to-face meetings are best for persuasion (91%), leadership (87%), and engagement (86%).
Having a meeting, lunch or a cup of coffee will give you the opportunity to build a relationship. It’s a rapport that can’t be felt over email or phone, and it’ll help build camaraderie, credibility and trust in the relationship. It’ll also help to generate a collaborative environment, inspire and energise a positive emotional climate between both parties.
How many times has an email been misunderstood, misread or perceived by another party to be rude when it’s not? Face-to-face meetings minimise the risk of miscommunication compared to email or over the phone.
Disadvantages of face-to-face communication
Business Size and Feedback Time
Of course, there are some disadvantages of face-to-face communication that companies find hard to get around, especially if it’s a large company. In a bigger organisation, finding time to meet people physically can be tricky, particularly if the company has multiple offices across a city or country, and inevitably things like an intermittent internet signal can make communicating via computer screens a little frustrating.
Another disadvantage is that it’s a task to get a message across to a large amount of people in one go. That personal touch that makes face-to-face communication so valuable isn’t there, and you can’t guarantee that all of your audience are listening. This is the other disadvantage; if the person you’re trying to speak to isn’t that engaged with what you’re talking about, then you won’t get very far.
In busy environments it’s sometimes better to give people time to get back to you. Rather than expecting someone to give you an answer to a decision immediately, putting it in an email and giving them time to consider what you are asking can be far more effective than standing in front of them waiting.