Nothing beats face to face (Guest commentary)

Virtual world ignores importance of non-verbal cues, which deepen understanding and build rapport
By Carol Kinsey Goman
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/09/2008

In a fast-paced, techno-charged era of e-mail, blogs, wikis and instant messages, one universal truth remains. Face-to-face is still the most preferred, productive and powerful communication medium. In fact, the more business professionals communicate electronically, the more pressing becomes the need for personal interaction.

That’s because, in face-to-face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional intimacy. Face-to-face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use.

We get most of the message (and all of the emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions and body language. And we rely on immediate feedback — the instantaneous responses of others — to help us gauge how well our ideas are being accepted.