happy-business-meeting-233x350By Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey

Face-to-face meetings can be expensive, but personal interactions are the still the best form of building relationships and enhancing communication in the business world. We presented two reasons why the personal touch is so effective in part I – the remainder appear below in the conclusion of this two-part article.

* You’re more effective in general. When you’re talking to someone in real time, you can make progress in real time and solve problems in real time. Thanks to facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice (see below for more information on each), you’ll usually find out more than just the basics when you have a verbal conversation. When an important client orcritical team member is on the other side of the globe, a face-to-face meeting once or twice a year can often be a smart investment. The rest of the time, if your communication is anything beyond a simple FYI, be sure to Skype or call.

* Facial expressions help get your message across… Did you know that the human face has at least 20 muscles that reveal facial expressions? When you put it that way, this is a powerful argument for face-to-face meetings, whether they’re in person or via Skype. Observing those expressions during verbal communication can give you instant feedback about how your message is being received. Facial expressions are also an invaluable way to express sincerity, interest, etc.

* …So does your body language… As humans and social animals, we’re equipped to share our own feelings and attitudes through the way we stand, sit, gesture, and more. Spend a little time learning the basics of body language. For instance, if you know that hands in one’s pockets indicate boredom or disinterest whereas leaning slightly forward indicates interest, you’ll be able to respond more accurately to others and avoid sending messages you don’t mean to.

* …and so does your tonality. It’s happened to everyone: You send an email that’s laced with sarcasm or humor, which the recipient totally fails to pick up on. Oops! Now you’re left frantically doing damage control. That’s one major reason why texting, emailing, and friending can be great ways to communicate while failing to succeed at relationship building. When spoken, the same words used in a text or email can have a very different meaning based on the tone, inflection, and the emphasis that the speaker gives. For example, if the other person sounds reluctant or uncomfortable, you can take advantage of the opportunity to ask why and discuss ideas that might never have been occurred electronically.

* Your vulnerability shows (and that’s a good thing!) In the virtual world, you can almost totally control the image you show to other people, and you can usually think about and edit what you want to say before pressing “send.” But in a real-time, face-to-face relationship, the other person can observe your tone of voice, expression, dress, and body language. The other party sees your human imperfections and is aware that you are vulnerable to potential personal rejection.


However, imperfections and vulnerability make you appear more believable and sincere. This can be a big advantage in the long run. And in the short run, you take precedence over virtual relationships.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are authors of “The Barefoot Spirit: How Hard Work, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine (Evolve Publishing, www.thebarefootspirit.com.