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The power of personal interactions in the digital age

Have you ever gotten to the end of a twenty or thirty exchange email debate with somebody and really wish you had just made the phone call. Living in this digital age has made it more important to know when it is crucial to have an in person conversation with somebody. I know that I tend to get better results in person. Particularly in the following situations:

  • When it’s really important
  • When it’s something that you don’t want to leave to chance
  • When the nuance of what you’ve written or how you’ve written something could be open to different interpretations
  • Times when it’s important that you be able to read body language and be able to react

Email, instant message, and other communication medians are great for being able to pop something off quickly and get a response. They also are able to provide extensive details in some cases, supporting materials for something, and attachments, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for everything. Being able to recognize when it’s time to get personal interaction with somebody is incredibly important because there’s real power in personal interaction. Part of that comes from factors I’ve mentioned before like the ability to read and react to a situation and the ability to read the nuances of somebody’s response in real time.

If you have a relationship with somebody or even if you don’t, it’s that personal warmth. It’s the ability to convey concern or real engagement on the topic that you’re having the discussion on by virtue of all the factors that you can bring to verify that really make personal interaction so effective that you just can’t recreate digitally. The way that you sit, the way that your eyes are tracking, the way that you modulate the tone of your voice, really everything goes into it and you’re able to bring more things to bear.

Now you can discount how important it is to be sitting in the same room to some degree, but when it’s really important, when every little bit adds up to success or failure, I think that it’s critical that you be able to understand that here’s the circumstance that warrants my personal engagement. It’s worth driving to to see this person or flying out to see this person. I’m a big believer in it and I’m curious to hear what other people think. I’d love to know if anyone has had experiences where being there in person really helped or if they have an experience where something was lost in translation in email or over the phone and it cost them.

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Dick Davies

When Paul Ryan met Barak Obama for the first time after 5 years of developing federal budget, perhaps earlier meetings to develop a relationship, BEFORE a transaction is required, also makes sense.

David B. Grinberg

You make some convincing points, Joshua. However, can one accomplish the same goals you describe, or close to them, via direct interactions on Skype, Google+ Hangouts, video conferencing, etc.?

Do millennials and Gen. Y even know what a real personal interaction is — seriously?

Thanks for the good advice.