In today’s business environment, digital communication is commonplace. With employees, customers, prospects and partners spread all over the world or working remotely in many cases, businesses use online communication tools to have conversations. Instant messaging platforms like Skype or team collaboration solutions like Slack help employees to have quick discussions about time-sensitive business matters. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom enable people to see each other while having business discussions. However, digital communication tools cannot replace the benefits of having in-person conversations in business.
Face-to-Face Communication Examples
For many businesses, face-to-face communication helps to build relationships between employees, customers, prospects and other external stakeholders. Some examples of face-to-face communication include:
- Team meetings or company annual conferences
- Sales meetings with prospects and customers
- Industry trade shows with colleagues and competitors
- Social activities with colleagues such as lunches or team-building activities
- One-on-one meetings with managers and team leaders
While businesses rely on digital communication in today’s global marketplace, face-to-face communication can provide a number of benefits that digital communication cannot replicate.
Seeing the Full Picture with Body Language
The key advantage of face-to-face communication is that body language becomes a part of the conversation, too. When emailing or talking on the phone, there is no opportunity to see the other person. Even video conferencing sometimes doesn’t provide the full picture of the person you’re talking to.
By having a face-to-face conversation, people have the opportunity to see the posture, facial expressions and arm gestures of their communication partners. A look of shock or anger on the face can change the whole trajectory of the conversation. Similarly, making eye contact and shaking someone’s hand can help to establish trust and ease tensions.
For example, if a salesperson is meeting with a prospect in person and presents the price for the product, the look on the prospect’s face can be very telling about whether they will accept the price or not. This gives the salesperson an opportunity to further elaborate on the benefits and results the product will achieve. If this conversation had taken place on the phone, the salesperson may not have realized that the prospect needed further convincing after seeing the price.
Reducing Miscommunication and Misinformation
The importance of face-to-face communication in relationships in a business environment cannot be underestimated. In-person conversations help to reduce miscommunication and misinformation, which enables peers to strengthen ties and increase their understanding. Having a face-to-face conversation gives the people involved an opportunity to analyze the body language and tone of voice while taking into account what is being said.
In-person meetings also provide the people involved with the ability to clarify information on the spot. If there is a need for further details regarding the subject matter, it’s quick and simple to just ask for more information. When conversing over email, for example, clarification can take days going back and forth and waiting for a reply.
When establishing a partnership with a supplier, for example, a business may need to clarify certain terms and conditions within the contract. If they are able to meet in person, they may be able to eliminate any misinformation and clarify all details within a few hours. If the conversation were taking place over email, however, it may take much longer and delay the partnership.
Increasing Opportunities for Collaboration
One of the major face-to-face communication benefits is that it increases the opportunities for collaboration between teams. Working in person with colleagues helps to build connections and create workplace synergy. Many businesses encourage team-building activities, which usually take place in person, to strengthen the bonds between employees.
When employees feel a strong sense of connection with their peers, they are able to contribute creative and innovative ideas. Colleagues often feed off of one another during team brainstorming meetings, producing results that they may not have been able to achieve if they were only communicating digitally.
Common face-to-face team building activities include going out for lunch together, going bowling or participating in a sport. These kinds of activities enable colleagues to learn more about each other’s lives outside of work, painting a more comprehensive picture.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.