Face to Face


Social media have their place, but do not forget to talk to each other face to face.

Social media are reducing the number of face-to-face conversations. “In person” encounters allow a person to speak while another responds spontaneously without resorting to the more formal structure of the written word.

Why do we seem to prefer Facebook/Twitter or emails rather than meeting with someone to discuss issues? The most obvious answer is that electronic media is more effective and saves us time. Psychologists tell us we find interacting with others through the computer is easier because a computer does not require us to become emotionally involved.

When to Meet Face to Face

Certainly there are situations when communicating via social media is effective, such as when sending a quick inquiry to a colleague. But when owner-managers need to announce decisions that will have an emotional impact and bring employee reaction, face-to-face meetings are a must for the following reasons:

  • Face-to-face communication has incredible advantages since you receive an immediate response. If, on the other hand, you text someone and they do not respond, uncertainty prevails.
  • One-on-one proximity allows you to “read” the respondent’s reaction to the message. A shrug of the shoulders, a deep sigh, or an unexpected expletive are great indicators of the recipient’s acceptance or understanding of what has been said.
  • People need to be able to express how they feel about a project, a change in venue or a performance review. Face-to-face meetings allow each party to add a level of interpretation to the message by providing and reading body language, eye contact, or voice intonations. The meaning of words alone can often be misinterpreted. Receiving a text saying “The project is due next week.” sends a different message than someone who laughs and says “The project is due next week!” then rolls their eyes.

Talking face to face allows more effective negotiation.

  • Talking face to face allows each party to negotiate more effectively by immediately understanding the obstacles and opportunities that may not be easily understood by simply reading a progress report or a job description.
  • Communicating face to face provides each party a better opportunity to adjust their approach to ensure the end results are achieved. Interpreted another way, face-to-face interaction builds trust, creates understanding, and assists both parties to understand they share a mission for the project and the organization.
  • Face-to-face meetings force interactions, which in turn create new ideas and approaches that are essential to success. Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer indicated in a memo:
    Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Meeting through Skype is a means of communicating with remote jobsites. Surveys indicate employees like Skype because it allows them to “get more done” as they can handle one-on-one meetings without the distractions of social graces. However, such methods still disconnect the workers from each other and the company and as such it is important for management to instill the need to maintain one-on-one personal contact.

Communicating face to face embraces the seven most important elements of interpersonal communication by:

  • clarifying expectations and purpose
  • creating brief, unambiguous communication
  • focusing all parties on a purpose
  • setting a consistency of tone that allows individuals to understand the underlying pattern and seriousness of the message
  • addressing all issues without the need to wait for additional instructions
  • ensuring that all points relevant to both sides of the discussion are brought to the table and discussed
  • allowing both parties to measure the knowledge and competence of the other party.

Get Back to Personal Contact

Even though Twitter has lifted the 140 character limit on messages, both owner-managers and employees must recognize that regardless of the length of the message, projects must be discussed face to face to generate the best results possible for the company, the employee and its customers.

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Disclaimer: BUSINESS MATTERS deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.
Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this letter, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
BUSINESS MATTERS is prepared bimonthly by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada for the clients of its members.
Richard Fulcher, CPA, CA – Author; Patricia Adamson, M.A., M.I.St. – CPA Canada Editor.
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