Lately I have noticed the disappearance of phone numbers from corporate contact pages. Instead of connecting with a human being, I am asked to fill out a form to receive more information. If they like how I’ve answered their questions, I might be lucky enough to receive an email; at least that is how I feel. I understand the need to qualify leads so that resources are used properly, but recently I’ve witnessed this lack of personal connection creeping into both my personal and professional life.
Typical of any working professional, I balance a variety of projects in various states of progress. At the beginning of one particularly hectic week, I found myself emailing a client to obtain answers on a time-sensitive project. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s emails were all left unanswered and I was getting concerned about the timeline.
Finally on Thursday, I received a voicemail from the client. She said she had received and responded to each of my emails and thought it was weird I kept asking her the same question. She took the initiative and picked up the phone and called me. Well, she’s my client and I was the one who needed information, so shouldn’t I have called her?
Similarly, I was testing potential software and required assistance past what the help desk could provide. I emailed my contact questions and he immediately responded inquiring about my availability for a phone call. Well, how about now? We jumped on a call and he told me how refreshing it was to immediately connect rather than the typical back and forth to align calendars for a meeting later in the week. In truth, had we waited, the momentum of my research on that particular solution would have slowed. He would have lost a potential sale and I would have moved onto another platform.
In both scenarios, the lack of personal connection and a dependence on email kept me from moving forward. All I had to do was pick up a phone to get the information I needed. Not only that, but it was an opportunity to connect – to form and/or further cement a relationship. Technology is supposed to make things easier for us, but are we making connections harder for ourselves? It has been said that a smart phone makes a dumb user, so why do we rely upon our inbox and calendars to be the hub of communication when it should be our brains, our personality? That is what makes us unique and forge bonds with clients, with people.
Since the purchase of my first smartphone, the rate in which I call a friend to chat has dramatically decreased and been replaced by text messages. And sadly, emoticons have replaced true meaningful communication. When we limit ourselves to a short typed response, the tone of our message is lost or misunderstood. Sometimes I find myself laboring far too long on crafting the perfect message so that there is no ambiguity. The final product is either confusing or diluted. I know I am not alone in this experience, so why then, do we put so much faith in our inbox over our own voice?
Technology is supposed to streamline efficiency, but sometimes I find it slowing down the process and even harming relationships. Not only did I waste four days waiting for a response from my client, but somehow emailing my client became a task on my “To Do” list. When did crossing off a task become more important than human connection? Sadly, I had become so focused on working on that list, that my method on how I should be accomplishing it was pushed to the side.
I believe there is a place for both efficient and personable communication. Now that I am aware of the issue, I can move forward to have more meaningful connections with increased productivity.
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