According to the latest global statistics, 65 billion WhatsApp messages are sent every day, which equates to 29 million per minute. We live in an era where the go-to-choice for a casual conversation is text, and the chat room is king.
For businesses, there’s no denying that the social media and technological revolution has enabled significant time and cost efficiencies. These days, we are far more likely to fire off an email rather than talking to our colleagues or customers. So, how relevant is the good old-fashioned conversation in the modern workplace?
Why conversation still counts
Messaging certainly has its advantages. It’s quick, less intrusive, needs less commitment and automatically places the sender in a position of control. But when a strong, persuasive message is key, nothing beats the spoken word. Here’s why:
More than words
Often, it’s not what we say but the way we say it. The body language we use transmits signals which add so much more to the underlying text. Acquired a new client? Arrange to meet them before the endless email tennis ensures. Getting to know the person first goes a long way to establishing a good business relationship.
Let’s face it, writing is not everyone’s forte! A clumsy or abrupt tone in an email can often lead to misunderstandings that might never arise from a simple conversation.
All about balance
The trick is not to use technology to replace old-fashioned conversation but to enhance it.
Email is particularly useful for:
- Sending complex data and attachments (which can be followed up with a phone call or meeting to further discuss).
- ‘Reading back’ or summarizing topics covered in an initial conversation, to ensure you are on the same page as your customer or colleague.
Corporate video conferencing systems and Skype can offer the best of both worlds. They provide a perfect solution when:
- Your customer is overseas and a business trip is not within budget. (Large teams especially).
- Unforeseen events prevent a face-to-face meeting. Skype is great for saving the day when your car won’t start or you get snowed in!
It’s not always about customers either. Many business leaders focus all their efforts on external clients and fail to prioritize the way they communicate inside their organizations. But this is exactly where the power of conversation can really deliver results. Here are just some of the ways that you can get the conversation going in your company:
Beyond the team meeting
Regular team meetings are a great place to start, but don’t stop there. One-to-one ‘catch-ups’ let team members know you care about their individual needs and concerns. These conversations build trust, boost employee engagement, improve team cohesiveness and, ultimately, result in increased productivity. Meeting on neutral ground often works best, and provides a great excuse for exploring your local coffee shops!
Taking the ‘media’ out of ‘social’
Organize team social events on an occasional basis. Bringing employees together in a relaxed environment outside their working environment will do wonders for morale. In large teams, these events will also introduce colleagues who are less likely to meet on a daily basis. Putting faces to names will break down barriers and give future working relationships a head start.
Dispelling digital distractions
Next time you run a meeting, why not ask your attendees to leave their smartphones and laptops at the door? It will improve focus, encourage more discussion and it’s likely to dispel the need for a follow-up meeting. Better still, your meeting may even run to time or finish early!
If a face-to-face conversation is a practical impossibility, don’t forget you can always pick up the phone!
Why not put your conversational skills to the test? Call the Chamber at 1-519-539-9411 to find out how we can help your business.