Step Away from the Computer and Give Me Some Face-Time!

What do we sacrifice at the altar of efficiency with our “lean communication techniques” such as email?


A study at the University of Illinois “put more than 200 undergraduate students through two hypothetical teamwork exercises, some face to face and others through e-mail and videoconferences. Face-to-face contact yielded the most trust and cooperation while e-mail netted the least, with videoconferences somewhere in between.”

In a nutshell, the results indicate that people have more confidence that others will do what they say they will do when discussions occur face-to-face vs. email.  That lack of confidence affects work production.

“If I’m not confident other people will do their share of the work, I’m less likely to do my share because I don’t want to be taken advantage of,” U of I business professor, Gregory Northcraft said. “If everyone takes that attitude, nothing gets done.”

So what can we do?

Balance the time efficiency of emails with the relationship efficiency of face-to-face conversation.

Put in some face-time to recharge trust in the relationship.  If distance precludes in-person meetings, use Skype, videoconferences, telephone calls (no face time, but vocal cues and the immediate back and forth are more personal than email) and consider adding your photo to emails to at least make them feel more personal.

Step away from the computer and give me some face-time!




About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

One Response to Step Away from the Computer and Give Me Some Face-Time!

  1. Dwight Raatz says:


    I think part of why this is so important is because the written word is understood by the reader through their own “filter”. If I’m having a bad day because I just had a fight with my wife and you sent me an email telling me about some project we are working on, I might mis-read your intentions and be offended in some way. I’ve had several occasions where emails I’ve sent out to co-workers were mis-read and interpreted as if it was a personal attack, then I’ve had to use face-time to remedy the issue.

    It’s been said that words are but “symbols of symbols” and these symbols can only be interpreted by the observer. Be careful the symbols you choose.

    Great article and good “words” 😉 to live by. Thanks Diane!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: