The power of communicating…the old fashioned way

Recently, a student who sat in one of my guest lectures sent me a message via LinkedIn. She asked me whether I would mind helping her by answering some questions for her assignment for her innovation subject. I said of course and to get in touch. She replied saying she would email them through. I replied and said, no, call me and let’s talk.

So she did and I could tell she was nervous to call at first, but she got so much more out of me that day. She got the answers, further contacts to help with her assignment and in that time we spent talking, I was able to get to know her a little better and hear what made her tick. And guess what? I offered her an internship! That would never have happened if she hid behind an email.

I use this example as one of many. In a world where there are so many means to communicate – email, text, Facebook, messenger (the list goes on), I believe it has made us worse at connecting and communicating.

A good friend of mine hates talking on the phone. She would much rather email, but I refuse to do anything but talk to her on the phone and over the years, this has helped her overcome this fear. She is so articulate and what she has to say should be heard. She is amazing on the phone and less fearful. I think it has helped her in more ways than she may even realise.

In a world of emojis, acronyms and misunderstood emails, I am worried that we are losing the power of words, the art of listening, understanding and making real connections.

I’m prompted to write this as I often see posts via social media business related or ‘how to or does anyone know’ questions. It continues to frustrate me how lazy people have become with connecting (i.e. asking the person who is seeking help and in many cases willing to pay someone to do the work to PM them for more info or not asking any further questions to qualify them to solve that question).

Did I miss something here on the new way of sales?

Why don’t we make it easier to listen, connect and solve?

In writing this article I did some research to make sure I wasn’t on some crazy crusade to get people to talk the old fashioned way. Thankfully it’s not just me. There seems to be a few more people like me (spoken word enthusiast is apparently what we are called) around the world who agree.

People such as psychologist and professor Sherry Turkle warn that we're in danger of losing the power of speech as we once understood it.

But why is speaking to people be it face to face or over the phone so important?

1.     There is less chance of misinterpretation. How many emails have you sweated over writing to make sure you get the tone right or are so rushed  that you end up coming across as brash? On the flip side, how many emails have you read with raised eyebrows or worse fill you with unnecessary worry due to ‘reading between the lines’.

2.     You cut through the noise. When everyone is busy PMing or posting comments on Facebook (which most of the time people don’t read), cut through the noise, pick up the phone, and surprise and delight that person by either answering their question or solving their problem. A little sales 101 here folks, you may even pick up the business because you have taken the time to connect, listen to them (even if they only have five minutes to talk) and present a solution.

3.     There is a lot to be said about body language. When you harness the power of nonverbal cues it allows you to create a better flow of conversation, make stronger connections and build rapport.

4.     The power of eye contact cannot be understated. When you look someone in the eye and hold the eye contact or likewise, hold the eye contact when they are talking to you and naturally show expression. It creates a warmth and connectivity between individuals even if the conversation is a tricky one to be had, there is less chance of misinterpretation and unnecessary worry.

5.     When you talk to people even if it’s over the phone, they can get a sense of your personality by hearing your voice. It allows you to build a connection and you have more chance of holding their attention when speaking with them then when you are send them an email, a PM or text (and there is less chance of them ignoring you!).

So why don’t you pick up the phone or invite someone to have coffee with you so you can listen with intention, create a genuine connection and provide a solution.