Our smartphones, tablets, and other devices are technological marvels, but unfortunately, they’ve diverted our attention away from what people can accomplish in conversations. Geoffrey Tumlin shares the unrealistic expectations we have for how our digital devices boost communication and offers advice to help us improve our communication with each other.
* Unrealistic expectation #1: Our new devices have made conversation easier.
Just because our new devices enable us to reach out and touch someone with a few simple clicks, doesn’t mean that communication itself has gotten any easier. “We are caught up in the excitement of the digital revolution,” asserts Tumlin. “We’ve been lulled into believing that communication is becoming easier because technological advances make it easier to send and receive messages.
“But because our interactions involve quirky, emotional, and sometimes unpredictable people, we can’t eliminate imperfections from communication. Communication is fundamentally imperfect, and no matter how fancy our devices may become, they’ll never be able to eliminate the misunderstandings, the confusion, and the errors that occur when people talk.”
* Unrealistic expectation #2: We successfully communicate each time we hit the “send” button.
True communication doesn’t occur until the other person understands our message, and that’s become the missing link in far too many conversations. “If you think about how we communicate today,” says Tumlin, “you’ll realize that we approach the majority of our exchanges with expediency in mind. We want to plow through our inboxes, respond to new texts or voice messages as soon as they come in, and get face-to-face conversations over quickly so we can move on to the next thing. The communication tasks that pile up every day make it awfully tempting to fire off quick messages or speak abruptly and think that our work is done.
“Smart communicators slow down when forming a message and consider whether or not the other person is likely to understand what they’re communicating. Without understanding, there is no communication.”
LATER THIS WEEK: Tumlin shares additional unrealistic expectations that have emerged during the long honeymoon of the digital communication revolution and outlines what we need to do to correct them.
Geoffrey Tumlin is the author of “Stop Talking, Start Communicating: Counterintuitive Secrets to Success in Business and in Life.” Learn more about Geoffrey at http://www.tumlin.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complete version of this article appears in the July 2014 “Employee Assistance Report.” For more information or a free trial, check out the “Employee Assistance Professionals” link at http://www.impact-publications.com