All of today, I have been occupied with LinkedIn, FaceBook, texting and emailing to be in touch. I did not have one voice to voice or face to face conversation outside of my interactions with my husband. This is very unusual for me as my work, friends, family and avocations generally bring me in active contact with others. I think about my clients who are finding themselves inter-personally isolated because they work virtually or are in career transition.
Virtual communication gives the satisfaction of immediacy in getting and giving information. You could spend many hours on-line believing that you are nurturing your connections and creating opportunities.
Social and business networks are useful transactions for informing and expanding your “presence”. However, I think that relationships still require commitment, chemistry and context to develop. Online communication…email, twitter, social networks, blogs, while great for sharing information can fool active participants into thinking they are connecting/networking/branding/getting “out there”/getting noticed. Virtual communication, however, is not a substitute for the value of in-person or live voice-to-voice intimacy.
On-line has the advantage of immediacy and the disadvantage of lacking nuance and context. Because it is written, sent and read quickly, it can result in abrupt judgments and replies.
Misunderstandings and misinterpretations cause a great deal of time spent resolving conflict. Just think of the tension that can be avoided by a conversation that requires listening, give and take and clarification. So, I recommend emails, texting, and social networking be used for factual, not emotional or nuanced, messages. When you really need to “talk”, make a date to meet in person, Skype, stop by someone’s office, or pick up the phone.
A really great way to capitalize on any virtual communication is to use it as a supplement rather than a substitute for live human contact. It is great to stay in touch and it is not a replacement for high touch.