Why You Should Ditch the Keyboard and Meet in Person Instead

Some important elements of communication are lost in digital exchanges.

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By Lisa Evans

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Face-to-face communication is a dying art, or so it seems in the digital age. The majority of our communication with clients now takes place over email and instant messaging. While digital communication certainly has its advantages, experts warn their overuse may lead to some fundamental flaws that could derail your success.

Michael Diettrich-Chastain, a business consultant in Asheville, N.C., who helps business leaders understand the human side of their business, says while digital communication now prevails, we should beware the consequences of avoiding face-to-face meetings altogether. Diettrich-Chastain says some important elements of communication are lost in digital exchanges. Although phone conversations now sound an intimate way of connecting, even these don't allow for body language and eye contact that are only available to you in an in-person meeting.

"All of these elements of communication help shape the conversation," says Diettrich-Chastain.

There are many benefits to face-to-face time, including:

Convey importance.

"If you're meeting with a client, an in-person meeting tells your client your intentions are serious," he says. Showing up in person tells your client the meeting is valuable to you because you're willing to spend your time, and theirs.

Related: 8 Ways to Turn a Boring Meeting Into a Roaring Success

Less room for misinterpretation.

"A face-to-face meeting is most important when there can be no room for interpretation regarding the exchange of information," says Diettrich-Chastain. The loss of tonality and body language in an email conversation can lead to misunderstandings. Face-to-face exchanges remove these elements for error, making it more likely that your message will come across as you intended.

Reading thoughts and emotions.

Facial expressions and body language can tell the story in a way email and phone conversations never can. Face-to-face interactions mean you can read these physical cues and change the way you're presenting your information or open the door for you to ask, "What do you think?" If you see a furrowed brow sitting across the table from you, you may want to clarify what you just said to avoid confusion, something you would never know existed if you were simply sending an email.

Immediate response.

Forget sitting around waiting for an answer to your email. A face-to-face sit down means you'll get a response right away. This can be particularly important when working on a time-sensitive project.

Capture attention.

When communicating over email or even over the phone, it can be difficult to gauge how interested someone is in what you're talking about. Are they checking their email while you're talking on the phone, or just skimming your email? People's attention spans are higher when they're meeting in person rather than reading an email or even listening to someone over the phone. In a face-to-face meeting, there's nowhere to hide. Disengagement is obvious, while the opposite – a head nod or smile – can instantly show you engagement and agreement.

Related: 6 Breezy Steps to a Productive Meeting

Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans is a health and lifestyle freelance journalist from Toronto.

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