Why You Shouldn't Forget the Importance of Face to Face Communication by Julie Furlong
Most people, including myself, sleep with our mobile phones right next to us. It’s normally the last thing we look at before we go to sleep and the first thing we look at when we wake up. We are so lucky with today’s current technology, making communication faster and easier, allowing us to have a bit of it all. With these wonderful devices, we can edit text messages and think before we send. We can stay in touch anywhere, anytime, just because we have this little gadget at arm’s length. Mobile phones are here to stay - we know that, and who would want to live without them?
But remember when the tough stuff in life was something we dealt with in person, face to face? Whether it was a breakup, confronting a difficult work situation or handling a problem. Face to face was the only way to go about it… and the right way. There was never any other option, nor was it appropriate to deal with it any other way. (Read Brave Business Lessons)
NOW, we live in a world where most of that behaviour has been replaced with the option of communicating these things through today’s technology, particularly our phones. The compulsory gadget we now all have has a huge influence on our interaction, especially social. It has allowed us to choose this convenient option, making communication a lot easier and less confronting. And with social media we’re always connected to our friends and millions of other people, no matter where we are and at what time. At a very low cost we can easily exchange messages, tell everyone what we are up to, get all sorts of notifications and share everything and anything, all we need is our little smartphone friend.
I know if my children had the option they would avoid most face to face conversations. At the end of most days, when we all finally get home and sit down to an evening meal, there is always one rule in place; we have no electronics at our table, especially phones. I encourage them daily to have a chat and engage. I put emphasis on the connection and conversation over dinner, even though the conversation can be mundane and boring at times (especially with kids). This daily habit does not allow the chance for them to think, it allows for vulnerability and raw emotion, which helps them develop real time story-telling and instils the value of face to face. Dragging a conversation out of them can take some effort, focus and hard work - but I am confident it will make them more connected in their future. (Read What Matters Most)
So, isn’t it time to ask what is this behavioural change doing to us, to our character, our personalities and our lives and why does it matter?
We need to ask ourselves the question - on what occasion is face to face the more appropriate option for us and for generations to come and why?
Unfortunately, we have forgotten that confronting people in real time conversation keeps us connected more than we realise. It develops who we are, it makes us human, real, genuine and authentic. It may not be as efficient or pleasant, at times, but will always put you at an advantage. Because you can’t edit real life conversation and if we continue to always communicate through our phones, eventually we are going to lose sight of how we relate to each other, building trust and meaningful relationships (read Best Friends). But most importantly, understanding how we relate to ourselves.
The truth of the matter is that if we do not encourage children to communicate face to face in real time conversation they will become even more disconnected to the real world. They will put their phones ahead of human interaction, they will become too busy with their devices, checking notifications, sending messages or sharing a video. When people become even more reliant on their phones and will not give their full attention to others, they get a false sense of security and control. And this will change us all.
I encourage you to make the effort and room in your life (and encourage children) to have that face to face conversation, engage with people, listen to each other and build quality relationships that last forever. Don’t sugar coat the communication via today’s technology. Conversation in real time does not always allow you to navigate exactly what you want to say. It’s ok if it’s awkward and messy, that is what life is, at times, it builds your character and who you are. Nothing will replace the way the person you are talking to reacts, their body language and facial reactions you are able to better understand how they are feeling.
Let’s not allow technology bring us apart from the real world and provide you with a false sense of connectivity. Don’t expect more from today’s technology and less from each other. Yes, relationships are hard and full of risk, but that’s what makes us human. (Read Good Life Habits)