Articles

Face to Face vs Online Communication

September 29, 2019


– Today we are going to look at face-to-face versus
online communication, so let’s check it out. (upbeat music) Hello there and welcome back. I’m Alex Lyon and this channel is all about helping
you develop as a leader, and we are in the second
part of a two-part series on face-to-face and online communication. The first video looks almost entirely at face-to-face communication and today we’ll look at the
similarities and differences and uses for these two types
of communication in general. So what do we mean by face-to-face? Well when we say face-to-face we’re mostly talking about
one-on-one communication. In the business we call this
interpersonal communication. Essentially the communication that happens in personal relationships
and family relationships or in one-on-one work relationships and really that takes up a huge part of our lives day to day. So, I’ll briefly recap why I believe face-to-face communication
is the standard form against which all other types of
communication are judged. So the bottom line is that
it’s the most complex, it’s the most complete. We have all these
variables to pay attention to at the same time. So I love it and it’s the standard. At the same time it doesn’t
mean face-to-face communication is always the superior choice. It’s not always the best approach. That depends on what you
are trying to accomplish. So, let’s compare the two and
see what type might be best for you given your specific situation, and usually I emphasize things at work. So most of the examples are at work. So in the first video we talked about how face-to-face communication
lends itself profoundly to the co-creation of
meaning between people. So communication does not simply transmit existing information
from point A to point B like through the telephone line. That’s one of the very old
models of communication. Communication creates our
relationships in realtime. This makes face-to-face
interaction really good for complex tasks. And so here are three
examples of complex tasks that face-to-face
communication is best at. First the co-creation of something. For example song writing or
other artistic endeavors. Essentially building new things together. So yes, you could send
files back and forth and collaborate to write a
song if you had to I guess, but that would probably
not work out very well over the long run. To really create something, you have to spend some
foundational time face-to-face. I was just watching, for example, an interview with Paul
McCartney from the Beatles and he was talking about how he and John Lennon wrote songs
together and they would always be face-to-face, share
ideas and collaborate. They weren’t simply sending
recordings back and forth. So in most cases co-creating something is most effective when
you’re doing it face-to-face at least in the initial
stages of creation. Now once you have a
foundation established, you could send files back
and forth later perhaps. The second way that
face-to-face communications is especially helpful is in connection, building relationships with each other. If you think about it you can’t have a complete relationship if you don’t spend time face-to-face together. Again, especially in the
beginning of the relationship or the time when the
relationship gets real. So, face-to-face communication
solidifies relationships, and if you do happen to
begin a relationship online like many of us do nowadays, the real turning point is when you finally meet face-to-face and interact. That in many ways seals or legitimizes the relationship, it makes it real. So in person you begin to
create shared experiences, shared history and shared meaning. And this is all very difficult to do if the relationship remains 100% online. The third way where a
face-to-face communication really is super valuable is in
collaborative problem solving. So building solutions through
brainstorming sessions. So I talked a bit about this
in first video in this series, but when you’re face-to-face
you come up with ideas that you would have never
thought of separately. So there’s something almost magical about bouncing ideas back and forth in realtime that creates something new. So, I was having a conversation with my wife recently and
we were trying to figure out what kinds of family activities
that we can do together. We’re looking for fun for the whole family which is really challenging to do if you’ve ever experienced it. And we were face to face and we brainstormed possible
fun things that we could all do and we came up with
some really great ideas and there’s just no
way we would of come up with so many interesting ideas, so many possible solutions if we were just texting back and forth. It would of ran out of gas. It’s just not gonna
happen in the same way. You have to be there to bounce the ideas off of each other and
hear yourself in light of the other person’s point of view and then you can even combine
ideas, reach compromises. It’s very difficult to get
those creative solutions if you’re not face-to-face
at least part of the time. So face-to-face communication
is especially important when creating something
new in those initial stages of creation and working
through those difficulties. And once you have that foundation, you can use more online communication, but now let’s turn to online communication and it really leaves out most aspects of face-to-face communication because each type of online communication just takes a sliver of face-to-face. So, each of the common line technology, online technologies, were
designed for a specific purpose and because of that they all
have really clear shortcomings. So, it takes out a layer of the cake, almost all the other layers of the cake that I mentioned in the first video and focuses entirely on
one or maybe two layers and so it leaves out quite a bit. So email, for example, bites
off one of the smallest pieces of the face-to-face cake but it’s still really important. So email is great for
transmitting large amounts of specific data in a moment. Like a large file, detailed
instructions in writing in a somewhat permanent way. It’s right there in text. It’s also great at sending invites or for appointments or putting
things on your calender. Again, because that information like the times and the
dates, they’re very specific. And so it’s good for
your routine transmission of already existing
information from A to B. Information that hopefully doesn’t require a lot of interpretation
and the email is very fast. You can just attach a
document and click send. Of course in theory we could do a lot of this face-to-face, but it would be really time consuming, really labor intensive and
that’s why we’ll often say, “Can you send me that on email?” ‘Cause it’s much more efficient, but on the other side email tends to lead to a lot of misunderstandings, and a lot of confusion about
intentions of the other person. It’s not great at working through issues. You can’t hear tone, you
can’t see facial expression. We can’t sense the other
person’s mood or sense of humor and if we are already in a bad mood, we will very likely read
their email wrong, right? And once a conversation on
email gets off track like this it’s really hard to solve
that misunderstanding if you stay on email. You really have to get face to face as quickly as possible to work that out and the same goes for texting. There’s more back and forth, but those limitations are still there. Next type of online
communication is social media and it bites off a
bigger piece of the cake, more layers of the cake,
but it’s still not complete. So social media is multimedia really. There is the potential for video, images, audio, texts and so it’s great for sharing parts of our lives with other people. And the big advantage is
that we can be very careful and creative about how we
craft an interesting message. It’s great for marketing for that reason for essentially pushing out
the best possible message. It certainly does allow for potential interaction with others, but really there are two main
criticisms to social media. First it can lack authenticity. Messages are so carefully crafted that they can come across as phony, it’s all just a show. The second criticism is
that people tend to react to social media in a
love it or hate it way. So it seems like everything gets sorted into strongly agree or
strongly disagree reactions. There’s no middle ground, very little compromise on social media. When we’re interacting
face to face though, you have to look at the person in the eye. You have to feel the potential awkwardness of saying something nasty
and so you would hold back face-to-face in most cases, but online we have trolls,
haters, full-time critics about any topic. You could post a picture about your lawn, the grass in your yard, and
somebody would say something about how there’s a water shortage and you should be ashamed of yourself and the outrage that
you have a green lawn, but you wouldn’t talk
like that face-to-face. In person people are more
courteous in their conversations. So next is video. Video takes an even
bigger bite of the cake, more layers because it has visual, audio, and you can add texts or subtitles. So video is great, for example, for general education purposes. You can even make it live, right? You can add chat to that so
there’s some interaction. It can be much more dynamic
than just a one-way video, and if you’re talking live on video, you can adjust to the feedback that you’re getting in the moment. Facebook Live is fun,
YouTube Live is great, but with live video, you’re still probably going to see those professional critics. Anytime I watch somebody live on YouTube there’s always at least
one persona acting crazy in the chat section. So you’re still on these
social media platforms that tend to split people
into those extreme love it or hate it camps and the
people that are in the middle don’t tend to comment. So I think the best of the
online types of communication is really one-to-one
live video, I love this. It’s challenging but using
Zoom or Skype or FaceTime to do one-on-one live video, this comes the closest to face-to-face. It bites off most of the layers
of the cake, but not all. So I had a one-to-one call
on video about six months ago to kick off a new working relationship. It was an hour-long call and
we covered a lot of ground, but it was enough to begin
a working relationship, to make a foundation and
after that the emails and other online communication
went really smoothly and it all worked out
because we had created that relationship first
live on one-on-one video. Now this is also the
most challenging, right? People don’t have a lot of
experience doing these kinds of calls especially professionally and I believe part of that
intimidation comes from the fact that it gets closest to
face-to-face communication. In other words it’s one of
the most demanding types of online communication
because it has so many layers of the cake that face-to-face
communication has. So that complexity makes
it really valuable, but also really challenging, but if you can’t meet face to face to create something to
meet for the first time, you’re in different cities for example, this can be a great substitute
to face-to-face communication to make some progress and to move forward. So in all I believe that face-to-face is the most complex and the most complete. It’s still the standard form
that all the other types of communication try to imitate, really. But some types of online communication are better choices depending on what you’re trying to accomplish and that’s usually
because they were designed for a specific use in mind
like email, as we mentioned. It’s great for appointments and things, but it’s not great for disagreements. So as mentioned the first
video in this series looks entirely at
face-to-face communication. If you haven’t checked that out yet, I encourage you to do so. I will put a link to that in
the description below the video and that really looks
at the different layers of face-to-face communication. I’d also like to tell
you about a resource, a free pdf download that I created on the essential professional
communication skills that every working person should possess. I’ll put a link to that, and that’s all I have for you today. Thanks, God bless, and I will
see you in the next video.

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