Is technology hindering our ability to communicate effectively?

Technological advances have now enabled us to communicate in a variety of ways – Facebook, Twitter, email and text messaging to name a few.

We now have the potential to reach a larger audience than ever before in human history. As a result, do we now post or do we communicate?

Every new communication technology changes how we interact. Mobile phones, social media and email all directly affect communication in both positive and negative ways.

Some people think that the added convenience of email, texting and even Facebook helps us to communicate more quickly, easily and often. Others think that these technologies do more to harm our face-to-face communication skills than anything they do to help.

An important point to remember is that our communication skills are neither thriving nor declining, but instead reflect how we use them.

It’s important to use the various forms of technology when it is appropriate to do so. This helps to gain all the positives of technology while minimising the negatives of their use.

Email

Have set times to check email. Consider including a message in your email signature indicating when emails are checked. This gives a clear indication to people when you may respond to their email.

Consider if an email is appropriate. Is it a potentially sensitive communication that may be misunderstood if relayed through email?

Texting

In a business context, texting should be kept to a minimum. An acceptable use may be to send a short piece of information such as a change in meeting time to a colleague who may be away from the office.

Social media

Use social media to promote your business in a positive light. For example, informative articles, updates to clients and potential clients.

Avoid using it to post personal updates, which detracts from productivity within the workplace.

Telephone

Although the telephone is not a new technology, it is important that when used, it is done so effectively.

When speaking on the telephone, ensure that you remain focused on the person with whom you are speaking. They will know if you are checking emails or working on a document. The distraction can be heard in the voice.

Are excuses being made?

Many rationalise that they need to ‘keep on top of things’ thus justifying their addiction to social media, emails and texting.

In reality, they are not allowing themselves ‘time out’ from the technology. Imagine how much more effective we would all be when communicating if we allowed ourselves time to re-charge.

Face-to-face communication

People do business with people, not businesses. So no matter how often you communicate through the various forms of technology, a true connection occurs through interaction with another person.

Even with face-to-face communication, there is the temptation to check smartphones for messages, emails, and latest posts. The challenge is to give the other person your attention without distractions.

When speaking with a person, minimise or eliminate technological distractions and listen actively.

Meetings

Have you ever been to a meeting and noticed some members of the meeting ‘discreetly’ using their smartphones? The effectiveness of their contributions could be questioned.

Set clear expectations at the beginning of the meeting so that everyone is clear that to have a focused, productive meeting, phones need to be turned off or at least turned to ‘silent’. The temptation to check messages either text or emails should be minimised for maximum focus.

Wise use

No matter your preferred form of technology, by using it wisely, you will become more effective in your communication.

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