I remember when I was issued company email in the mid 90s. It went a little something like this: someone would call me on the phone to inform me that they sent me an email, and then I’d wait in my office cubicle staring a hole into my computer screen until it showed up. Sometimes information would arrive by fax; most of the time followed up with a phone call to explain in more detail the purpose of the communication. Can you imagine doing that today? Because of the advancements in technology, communication in today’s business world is so much easier – but at what cost? Has it affected our ability to relate to others in a more intimate way? Technology changed communication making business more efficient, but its affect may impact us socially.
The obvious technology pros:
Being able to connect real-time (email, messaging, social media) allows two people to initiate communication instantly and conveniently. Gaining feedback, asking questions, providing information immediately saves businesses a lot of time, manpower and money, plus in the long run is more efficient.
The change in business technology has increased the speed in which business is conducted. This is especially advantageous to companies that do business with others in far-away locations. Instead of waiting days for documents to be received by a colleague, businesses may now exchange files in a matter of seconds over the Internet.
Meetings can be held via video conferencing technology saving businesses the expense of travel and time.
However, some of the technology changes that affect communication may not be for the better. While these negative effects are relatively minor, in some cases they have profound effects on business and interpersonal skills.
The technology cons:
Technology is highly distracting. With mobile devices and computers, we are constantly bombarded with notifications on social media, chats online with friends, or texts with a neighbor. This distraction can sometimes be a “time waster” reducing productivity and negating any increase in communication output that an advancement of technology has provided.
The very nature of how technology works inhibits personal communication in that it is short and instant and in no way meant to express feelings and emotion compared to face to face communication. Technology also distorts the clarity of the message being conveyed since it is fast and instant. There are times when the tone and meaning behind a digital message is misconstrued.
Technology such as text messages and email allows us to communicate in short, carefully edited sentences that lack intimacy and completely remove the circumstantial information provided by tone of voice and body language. As a result, people who connect with others primarily through technology might find it difficult to engage in normal conversation, since they may have issues understanding non-verbal cues due to lack of practice with face-to-face interaction that can’t be paused, edited or filtered.