Is it time to speak up?

October 2 2017

Talking is becoming a lost form of communication as we turn to our fingers and thumbs to tap out messages. We conduct some of our most important relationships digitally and instantly - by email, text, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

  • European telecommunications company O2 produced a study that showed that telephone apps on smartphones—that is, using your phone to make actual phone calls, are only the fifth-most-used app among the general public (Forbes, May 2017)

Increasingly we talk to loved ones, friends, family and work colleagues and clients via digital media, taking refuge in carefully worded messages - not risking the time investment or 'on the spot' awkwardness of an actual person-to-person conversation. There's no judgement call here - we all do it. It can be fun, quick, simple - and therefore hugely easy and gratifying.

It's clear to see why we prefer digital communications - they allow us to consider what we're typing instead of risking an instant response. Messaging and emails, whilst considered instant, can be read and responded to at leisure - while a phone call can be badly timed or intrusive. Also, instant messaging is private - no one can overhear what you have to say. 

  • UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian found that 58% of communication is through body language: 35% through vocal tone, pitch, and emphasis, and a mere 7% through content of the message (Psychology today, 2013)

The main reason for this blog is to restate something we all know but overlook. Much of the real content of our conversations is lost in translation. Consider how much you understand from someone who is in front of you - you have physical clues: tone of voice, stance and personal cues such as gestures and facial expression. However you can still misinterpret someone's meaning or miss part of what they are saying. Can you imagine then how much of your conversation is diluted through the 7% you aim to convey through the typeface on your phone or computer? 

If it's a valuable conversation or one that could be open to misinterpretation, it's probably best to switch off the mobile device and speak up. Some things are too important to risk with a typo or the absence of a smile.

This entry was posted in Communications, Business advice and posted on October 2, 2017

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