There is a lot to be said for social media as a tool to keep up to date between meetings. I saw two friends this weekend who I hadn’t seen face-to-face in several years. The vast impact of social media since we originally met at university 21 years ago means that we didn’t need to start with a summary of what each other had been up to since we were last together and could get straight into a good old chinwag.
But technology shouldn’t and doesn’t replace real conversations and I despair of thinking of a time when that might be the case. Using social media as your only form of communication delivers only what people want you to see, and what they are comfortable for you to see. You lose all the nuance of body language, human response and an interactive two-way discussion.
The same applies in the workplace. Emails are fine to an extent, but only really support transactional work. Have a good look at the context of your work emails – in the vast majority they will be process-driven and/ or governance-related. A flag of a problem, a situation requiring a decision, or confirming decision-making after the event. They can never replace the need for effective debate, sharing views to reach a collaborative and creative solution. To achieve that you will always need people to have the space and the time to have those debates, to reflect on their own responses and develop others ideas.
And so the same applies to your work life as to your ‘real’ life – in our busy world using technology to aid communication certainly makes things more efficient, but nothing really beats finding the time to get together and kick back for a really good natter.