July 13, 2021
Reach out and touch somebody’s hand, make this world a better place
~ Diana Ross
Am I old fashioned to think that face-to face meetings with handshakes, eye-to-eye contact, positive body language, shared dinners, friendly cocktails, and warm conversation builds personal trust and unyielding loyalty in a business relationship? That “touchy-feely” type of intimacy disappeared during the pandemic replaced by teleconferencing, emailing, and phone calls, the only communication alternatives that made sense and felt safe, all critical vehicles for conducting remote business. But did the business world just get a little more anonymous?
Stage left, Zoom, the mother of Facetime, an easy, secure, affordable home or office video conferencing platform for business meetings/collaborations exploded onto the scene. It expanded our digital, impersonal world where the lost art of personal interaction is displayed on a screen with illusionary backgrounds, stilted dialogue, headsets, craned necks, and uncomfortable, “you’re muted” reminders. Is this the new economical business-as-usual communications norm or will businesses revert to the costly, time-consuming in-person meetings, conferences and seminars? Zoom touts that their “video communications empower people to accomplish more.” But at what cost!?
In the financial world where trust is often the deciding factor in a relationship, many clients want to press the flesh and connect on a personal level, find out who they are partnering with. One of the problems of teleconferencing is once the structured meeting unplugs, the spontaneity ends, and the follow-up is generally through emails which eliminates two important senses of sight and hearing. Even mistakes in grammar can lose a contract so if there are doubts, get another set of eyes to read those important emails. Once sent, the bird is out of the cage, hopefully never returning to roost on the sender’s head.
Emails do not allow a fluid conversation where the recipient can react and respond instinctively to each point in the message. Emails work if the subject matter is simple, crystal clear, black and white with no chance for distortion. Otherwise, if emails are intricate, open for interpretation, or subjective, they should be treated as a subordinate message intermingled with phone calls or meetings. Keep in mind the huge emotional disconnect with emails, no chance to see or hear the receiver’s reactions: smiling, grimacing, engaging, eye rolling, sweating, flipping the bird, enthusiastic, or just plain bored.
The telephone call incorporates the sense of hearing which is a plus over emails, but it is still not full engagement, and once the disconnect occurs, a lot of conversation can be misplaced or lost. Often the comment “I hear what you are saying” is a trap for misinterpretation, not always meaning “I understand what you are saying.” The value of face-to-face meetings allows for straight forward communication encompassing body language, voice fluctuation, emotions, flexibility, impulsive reactions, and authentic dialogue. Limiting the senses in an alternative discussion puts a strangle hold on comprehension often resulting in misinterpretation and incorrect assumptions.
Meeting with clients at conferences or on their own turf demonstrates a much higher level of commitment, a willingness to build a more complex and insightful relationship, a time to delve deeply into their needs, concerns, and what they value. Clients typically associate a company with a person so the more they directly connect, the deeper the trust, and the likelihood loyalty will remain unshakable.
RIBBIT.ai is attending long awaited, in-person meetings at the October, LEND 360 lending conference in Dallas. The AI Decisioning Analytics company is celebrating the return to normalcy with gratitude that we can finally “reach out and touch somebody’s hand” . . . Diana Ross.
The word remote is such a lonely word, bringing up images of an isolated cabin in the woods, hungry wolves prowling about, and potentially a shortage of food and supplies. Today’s remote office/branch office (ROBO) is often the polar opposite of the Hansel and Gretel version. ROBO is usually set up in the employee’s house often located in a separate town, state, or country from the company’s main office.
Never be afraid to fail. Failure is only a stepping stone to improvement ~ Tony Jaa
I remember my young daughter’s disheartening basketball coach yelling at the team “don’t shoot the ball unless you are going to make it.” Naturally, the team was afraid to shoot the ball so they never scored enough points to win. An enlightened coach would have said “shoot the ball until you make it.” Giving the girls permission to miss the basket without fear of blame would have released their potential. This same philosophy in the workplace is liberating: push yourself, learn from mistakes, and use your knowledge to improve. Slam dunk!
It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human ~ Will Rogers
One of my father and husband’s favorite TV characters was Andy Rooney, who appeared at the end of every 60 Minutes episode with a short critique on the condition of the world. Andy was the dessert at the end of the informative and serious news program, culminating with a rise of his bushy eyebrows, a twinkle in his eyes, and his witty, often acerbic insights about the way things were. And was often said, he could say so much with just a few words.