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The importance of communicating using the personal touch

February 21, 2011
News that 38 soldiers were sent emails giving them notice that their contracts were to be terminated, and the furious response from media and political circles, underlines the importance of face-to-face communication and the dangers of over-reliance on the quick and convenient email.
Communication by email isn't always the best way.

Could relying on an email to convey the nuance of an important message be lazy and ill-considered?

Although in this instance the Army was quick to admit that this was “a bad mistake” and the result of “a serious administrative error” there are many cases where similarly important and sensitive news has been communicated via an inappropriate and impersonal method such email.
It’s so much easier to fire off a text or an email instead of making an appointment in person, writing a carefully thought-out letter, or even picking up the phone that more of us are allowing technology to replace elements of our face-to-face relationships. In many instances it’s hugely convenient and efficient to send someone a quick text and receive a reply in seconds. But unless we’re careful, these messages threaten to replace the friendly catch-up over coffee, regular team meetings, a chat with a colleague or even – in some cases – the face-to-face meeting to discuss more serious issues.
When technology is making remote communication so much easier and convenient, it’s important to make time for the personal touch. Using an email to confirm facts and exchange information is a great use of this technology. But relying on an email to convey the nuance of an important message isn’t just lazy and ill-considered, it also limits opportunities – for a more in-depth conversation, for new ideas sparked as the result of face-to-face interaction or for a better relationship.

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