Emoticons Can Only Do So Much: The Import of Phone Calls and Face-to-Face Meetings


In our digital, data-driven world, where many of us have more LinkedIn and Facebook connections than the number of people we actually know, it is tempting to ask: Are we really communicating?

Like many of you, I remember a world before fax machines, desktop computers, email and smartphones. When getting to the office, I picked up memos from my mail slot and read reports that were dutifully printed by some poor soul who arrived very early every day to assemble them.

While it feels like a technological millennia ago, this wasn’t really that long ago…

And, while I don’t long for those times — I love technology for both the change it encourages and the progress it drives — I do wonder sometimes if for all of our online connections and means of reaching out, are we really better off in our day-to-day business and sales communication?

For example, remember the telephone?  It’s the part of the smartphone that we seldom seem to use anymore — or rather that thing on your desk that you have forwarded to voicemail.

There was a time when the phone rang, we answered it and had a conversation with someone. We communicated, and our messages were delivered.  There was a certainty in that communication: Yes, I called that person; yes, I delivered that message; yes, we discussed it.

Our communication these days isn’t really communication at all. We’ve become e-broadcasters of messages, placing the responsibility for genuine communication with the recipient of the message, rather than the messenger.

We often think: I sent an email; I left a voicemail; I texted. Now, I sit and I wait, placing all responsibility on the recipient. But, in business you can’t just sit and wait. If you do, you will let more than one opportunity pass you by, and you could potentially damage your professional image by appearing lackadaisical.

Additionally, we all miss an imperative ingredient: Feedback.

Consider the importance of non-verbal feedback to communication. You know that necessary element that in a face-to-face meeting comes in the form of a sigh, a smile or a nod in agreement? When we receive feedback, we are finding out if the recipient got our message. Also, more importantly, we find out if our message was understood. Often with electronic communication, things like motivation, understanding and tone are up in the air since we don’t really know if the recipient has gotten the message, literally or figuratively. We all know an emoticon can only do so much.

With that in mind, when you have important messages to deliver or urgent requirements to address, do you really want to trust that the e-broadcasts you send are actually being received — or even more critical — understood?

Face-to-face meetings, person-to-person phone calls: These will always be the best ways to communicate truly and effectively. There is no substitute for the verbal responses, body language and physical gestures that insure that your message was received and understood.

Confused? Need more info? Call me – let’s discuss this!

To read more of what Dan Forbes and other industry leaders have to say in “Sales from the EDGE” click here!




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