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In message <Pine -dot- 3 -dot- 89 -dot- 9509231258 -dot- A5921-0100000 -at- world -dot- std -dot- com> - Richard G Harri
s <rgh -at- world -dot- std -dot- com> writes:
:>I've been following this thread with interest.
:>I see several people feel e-mail has enhanced/increased their social
:>But I'm still concerned about how it affects the cocktail party type of
:>face-to-face social skills. My last boss depended on these skills at
:>company gatherings to get many things accomplished.
I don't think the social skills that makes a person comfortable
in a cocktail party-type situation will suddenly go away just because
he/she uses e-mail. People who have those skills developed them
through conscious effort, e-mail isn't going to "ruin" them forever :)
My guess is that people that are very good at face-to-face interactions
may feel VERY lost when they suddenly find they have to depend strictly on
words on paper/screen to communicate, in particular if they are also
1. not comfortable with writing in a variety of tones and/or
2. not fond of technology.
Someone who has spent years perfecting their "live" persona is bound to be at
least somewhat traumatized when told to cut off the video and audio feed and
say their piece in print. It's literally a case of changing media!
E-mail (and written communication) are harsh in the sense that they can strip
off all the distractions and put the spotlight on the topic, not on the
talking head. How do you use, say, your height, to intimidate if you are
now reduced to words on a screen? Can you be chatty and flattering in
writing without sounding phony? How do you use your spotless appearance to
convey your image by e-mail? And, of course, [and I know this doesn't happen
in real life, it's just an imaginary example hailing back to the stone age
;)], how do you use your sexuality (subtly or otherwise) to make yourself
more likeable/personable via e-mail (without looking thoroughly
unprofessional and leaving a paper trail)?? Can you appear to be cordial and
sympathetic when you can't reach out and pat someone on the back or arm as
the situation warrants?? And on and on...
:>Also, since much face-to-face communicating depends on the nonverbal body
:>language, can smileys really replace it? Body language really
:>communicates a lot. I can understand a desire to hide some of that by
:>using e-mail, but is it a copout?
I don't think it's a cop-out. "Body langues really communicates a lot..."
but how much of that body language is actually read correctly? And how much
of that body language actually contributes to the transmission of the
information the interaction is REALLY all about?
I am not saying that business communications ought to be stripped of all
emotional context nor that employees ought to treat each other as inanimate
objects. However, I do think that e-mail has a very important place,
somewhere up there with the phone call and the cocktail party/face-to-face
chat or "doing lunch".