New forms of communication also come at expense
It occurred to me this week, and not for the first time, that all the new mediums of communication enabled by advancements in technology come at a certain expense. Emailing, text messaging, and IMing all provide quick and easy ways to reach people, send a message or get a quick answer to a question, and they have the potential to grossly boost workplace productivity. On the flip-side, however, as we become more comfortable communicating through these new mediums and, at the same time, more habitual in our behavior, they can easily begin to replace the phone call or lunch meeting as they require a far smaller investment of time. In my own experience, feeling as comfortable writing as I do speaking (if not moreso), I have fallen into the trap of sending an email to express myself on important matters, when a phone call or face-to-face discussion would have been more appropriate. None of the new "non-human" methods of communication can convey tone, feeling or personal affect the way a voice or facial expression can. As we embrace new technologies and all the benefits they offer, its important to remember the positive qualities of human interaction that only hearing someone's voice or seeing their face can achieve.