I have to admit, I am not the most technologically savvy of people in the world but at the same time I am not scared of using new technology. A lot of technological advances like mobile phones, I phones and Blackberries can greatly improve our productivity and work life balance but some applications in this time-poor society like texting, emailing and twittering seem to be adding to our workloads and dampening our productivity…
I recently referred to a local business organisation regarding a certain project. When the intended contact person wasn’t there I tried to arrange a suitable time to call back or at least, a time when they could return my call.
“It would be better if you emailed her about your proposal and then she will get back to you in due course,” insisted the secretary. I began to realise that many people and businesses prefer email contact rather than having an actual conversation with a person. Many say that it is more time-efficient and helps with business focus and productivity but does it really improve productivity?
I can certainly see how email is good for quick documentation of any agreements and is great for communicating to many people at a time.
What I do have an issue with is when we communicate by default behind the cloak of technology when an actual conversation with someone could moves things forward more effectively. Technology gives us efficiency but does it really provide in effectiveness in creating outcomes?
For example, in the situation I previously mentioned… if the secretary took my number and said that the person will call me sometime tomorrow or later on in the day. I would have given her specific times when I would be free to take the call. Then a two minute conversation would have confirmed whether that organisation was interested in my project or not.
Now we have resorted to communication by email, it took me twenty minutes to outline the project in a three page document that I emailed. It will take the intended recipient at least five minutes to peruse the document and then an additional few minutes to send a reply email.
But email advocates may rightly point out that the email communication can occur outside of normal business hours…
That may be true but they fail to realise that it may be more convenient to email someone after hours but the reality in this case is that a combined total of about 30 minutes was used by the parties involved in the more convenient email communication compared to a two minute phone conversation.
Convenience is meant to save you time and not cost you time. Use technology wisely by using applications in a way that saves you time. If you find that you have a truckload of emails to deal with every night after work requiring you to be bunkered for an extra couple of hours away from your loved ones, it may be a sign of reluctance to have actual conversations with people (including your family and loved ones).
I am seeing more incidences of people shying away from actual communication with others. People are breaking up relationships via text or email and cancelling previous business agreements via email. While it may be more convenient initially and you avoid a possible confrontation when using technology, I believe that it wastes a lot more time for both parties due to one glaring weakness of technology when compared with direct communication….
…Technology is very inefficient and ineffective in answering questions.
If your colleagues, customers or loved ones have any questions from your communication via technology, it takes a lot of time with the back and forth replies with technology to resolve. An actual conversation can resolve questions quickly and effectively.
My concern is that many people are becoming communication invalids due to a lack of conversing directly with other people. Shying away from actual communication and hiding behind technology does nothing to develop relationship-building skills, problem-solving skills or communication skills, all skills that are essential for a successful and rewarding career and life.
In my opinion, having a direct conversation is the most effective and time-efficient technology available. You can use mobile phones, Skype, conference calling facilities to even more effectively leverage your time. You can reduce the amount of time that you need to work if you master the art of having an actual conversation so spend time mastering your communication skills before you master all the high tech gadgets.