Are face-to-face meetings the antidote to today’s divided world?
Face-to-face meetings used to be the only option for communicating ideas and holding discussions with multiple colleagues in the workplace. Before the existence of modern technology, that enabled virtual meetings to be held, meeting in person was the norm and a necessity of day-to-day corporate life.
With the onset of the digital age, software has made life easier in terms of video conferencing, enabling employees to hold a virtual meeting with delegates in different parts of the country – or even in another part of the world.
Despite such tools saving time and money, in terms of staff members no longer having to physically travel to the meeting location, nothing can replace the value of face-to-face meetings where possible, in terms of the unique benefits they offer.
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Meeting people in person has the ability to build a close professional relationship in a way that digital meetings will never realise. A video conference or an email can’t replace the value of shaking a person’s hand and making a connection, increasing our sense of shared goals.
When meeting face-to-face, delegates often find it easier to ask questions, brainstorm ideas and revisit topics that require further discussion. Professional relationships and even friendships can grow over a coffee, a business lunch or a workshop.
Communication is conveyed as much by body language as it is by words. Meeting in person enables you to observe and understand colleagues’ small signs conveyed through facial expressions or hand gestures in particular. No-one needs to be an expert in psychology to understand the signals.
While a virtual meeting or an email won’t let you see the subtle signs, meeting in person can help you to figure out what the other person is really telling you. If you’re meeting with a client and they say they’re on board with your suggestions, but their body language seems to say otherwise, you can pick up on this and try to smooth things over or suggest other ideas right away.
Attendees are more likely to leave a face-to-face meeting feeling like they have a better sense of their colleagues’ perspective, fresh ideas and often new contacts, returning to the office with a greater sense of camaraderie.
In the age of social media, real personal connections are becoming increasingly rare – yet they are a vital part of our life so that our global, interconnected society can grow as a result of a greater understanding of other people and their cultures.
Could face-to-face meetings become the antidote to today’s divided world? When people are sitting behind their computer screen, communicating digitally through social media with someone they don’t really know, it’s easy for words to be misunderstood and sentiments to be misconstrued.
Everyone will have seen, or even participated in a social media debate which has descended into unproductive and angry language, when every issue appears to become divisive. We’ve all heard the term “keyboard warrior”, when people end up saying far more than they would if they met the other person face-to-face.
Personal meetings have exactly the opposite effect of angry rants. We tend to realise what we have in common with the other person – and even if we can’t agree with them on everything, we’re more likely to respect each other’s differences.
Meeting in person, eye contact, a handshake and bonding over a coffee still hold great value in today’s digital society, and the in-person approach can help us to find a solution to the challenges we all face in our everyday lives.
Many people believe face-to-face communication is one antidote to a divided world. Building human connections and talking, rather than having only a digital connection, helps us to bridge our differences more quickly and work out a way to move forward together. This ethos is true, not only in the corporate world but also in the world outside the office.
Going the extra mile is also appreciated by clients, as you’ve put in the extra effort and managed your schedule to fit in a personal meeting. Although it’s not as easy as sending an email or arranging a conference call, it helps to create a positive impression and your client will feel that you really care.
Meetings in person are more transparent and can help build trust, so they are something we should all consider. Never be “too busy” to show someone you care by taking time out to meet them for a chat.
Book one of &Meetings’ venues today to find out why we’re the UK’s leading provider of flexible meeting solutions. Offering a portfolio of high-quality venues in London and across southern England, if you need one of our affordable meeting rooms, give us a call on 0800 073 0499 to find out more.
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