With the huge number of communication platforms available today, it seems that getting in touch really should be easier than ever before. With calls, texts, Instant Messages, Skype, email and more, there’s no reason why we should ever struggle to hear from anyone.
But is communication better or worse in today’s world?
Fast, efficient, constant – it’s expected to be all these things and more. Everything is online, on the phone and on the move – everywhere but in person.
I remember my parents once explaining to me that a visit to the Bank Manager used to be a very big deal. Only once suited and booted would you be ready to see this VIP face to face. But nowadays, we’re actively encouraged to use online facilities and only go in-branch to talk to someone when we absolutely have to. In fact, it was only the other day when in Barclays with my fiancé that I realised they’d moved to machine-only services. The staff had disappeared. Apparently, we don’t need humans anymore.
This surprised us both, but then again, perhaps this is where we’re heading more and more.
The younger generation doesn’t question today’s communication paradigm. Their sheer appetite for convenience and faster and faster communication is insatiable. So the quick-fire change of communication grows ever faster. And with these young people driving consumption trends, how does good old fashioned face-to-face chat stand any chance of survival?
With that in mind, I’m led to ask another question; does super speedy online and phone communication always work? How many times have you sent a text or email and realised (immediately after hitting send of course) that the tone was ambiguous or wrong? How many times has a misplaced punctuation mark, a spelling mistake or an autocorrect blunder ruined an otherwise perfectly clear message?
Face-to-face communication has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to include not just speech, but eye contact, body language and even complete silence. All this adds up to an incredibly complex, but effective, form of communicating. We make far fewer mistakes when face to face because we can read our counterpart’s reaction and we’re not beholden to technology – but most importantly, we can correct and clarify any miscommunications instantaneously. With an email or text, the interpretation of your message is solely at the mercy of the recipient. Although, having said that, at least we’ve evolved emoticons to help us set the tone ;-).
But still, in this world of countless, relatively young communication options, how can we be sure we’re even communicating effectively?
I guess you just have to remember to stop for a moment and proofread all your messages to ensure you’re being as clear as possible and not making silly mistakes. But more importantly, maybe we need to consider moving away from our laptops, tablets and phones every so often and having a proper face-to-face catch up at the pub. Well, it’s as good a reason as any :-).