Thursday, June 5, 2008

end of face to face communications?

Due to soaring gas prices, the airline, trucking, and many other businesses are suffering huge losses and insecurity. Some city governments are advocating 4 day work weeks and 10 hour work days, to save commuting expenses.

As we drastically reduce business travel by airplane and automobile, the question naturally arises: just how important is face to face communications. I say it's rapidly becoming an extravagant expense, and basically irrelevant.

I'm not diminishing the "power of face to face communications" in all situations. I'm saying: you can no longer rely on them as much as you used to. You can no longer afford to engage in as much of it.

Whether you like it or not, physical presencing is rapidly being marginalized by telepresencing and other web-enabled and telecommunications tools.

Face to face communications are responsible for unsavory business practices, like con jobs and fraud. Interpersonal hypnosis and suggestology are strengthened in face to face communication. Many unscrupulous sales people have mastered the art of face to face manipulation of customers. Charisma and schmoozing have accounted for a lot of bad purchases, business associations, and hiring acts.

Basing a financial decision on the personality of a sales person who's physically in front of the victim, and hard to break away from, has caused much grief and loss.

Distance will alleviate a lot of these problems, forcing people to sharpen their written and long distance communication skills. Written material is easier to judge critically. You can take your own sweet time to analyze and respond to them. Sales pressure is greatly reduced. Rationality is increased.

Face to face communications are largely unnecessary thanks to the internet.

Now is the time for business to master live streaming video, video demos, podcasting, VoIP, teleconferencing, blogging, and social media networking. Skilled professionalism in these tools is now moving from peripheral and mission critical and universal.

Face to face communications will continue to be valuable for initial contact.

It's still a good idea to humanize a business relationship with up close and personal conversation. It's deeply ingrained in our nature to trust someone more if you've been in their physical presence. You get visual cues and behavioral insights that are difficult to obtain at a distance. These qualities remain vital and are not going to be usurped by technology very easily.

But watch the trends change in business due to gas prices.

Business As Usual will whine about the demise of old fashioned methodologies. But as I often say, Business As Usual often leads to Business As Over.

Start now to experiment with social media, video, audio, and other emerging technologies. As a student, employee, or corporation, these tools are now your best allies. They're gaining in prevalence and priority over the slower, costlier, less efficient and more cumbersome ways of conducting business.

Get virtual now.

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