Innovations in the world of communications have been wonderful. We can use social media to stay in contact with friends and colleagues and reconnect with individuals we know from the past. Emails and texting have become a preferred way to communicate quickly. (Thanks to email, for example, this “Monday Manna” is reaching people in more than 20 different languages all around the world!)
The Internet has given us blogs through which we can share experiences and opinions with anyone interested in reading them. Skype is one way we can connect face-to-face with people thousands of miles away via computer. We can present videos on sites like YouTube, whether to entertain or convey a serious message. When phone calls are not answered, there is always voice mail.
Who knows what the next communications breakthroughs will be? They are extremely beneficial and practical, but all lack one important dimension: personal touch. An old advertising slogan suggested, “Reach out and touch someone.” There is not much real “touch” involved in texting, sending emails, writing a blog, or even leaving a voice mail.
Researchers have determined only about seven percent of communication is verbal, meaning 93 percent is non-verbal: eye contact, body language, gestures and facial expressions, tone of voice, the pace we speak. So when we send an email or text, much of our message is missing. Not only that, but a gentle touch, a friendly smile or wink of an eye can only be exchanged in person. In an increasingly impersonal world, these “non-verbals” help us say, “You are somebody. I know you exist – and you are important.”
So as we look ahead to a new year, maybe a worthwhile resolution would be to become more real – less artificial. Determining to “be there” for other people, despite our deadlines, pressures and tight schedules. The Bible has some useful observations about this:
The impact of personal presence. When we are in the presence of others, we not only communicate with words, but also underscore our message through personal example. Jesus Christ understood this principle. The Bible says He “appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14).
The inspiration of being together. When we are together, having a common sense of mission, we can encourage and inspire each other: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
The instruction of personal interaction. By spending time with one another, rubbing shoulders in the work environment, we can share wisdom, challenge one another creatively, and help one another grow professionally. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
Enjoy the convenience of electronic communications. But remember, there is no substitute for face-to-face, eye-to-eye human interaction.
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.
1. Which of the advances in electronic communications has had the greatest impact on you? On your business or organization? In what ways?
2. What is your reaction to the comment that a drawback of electronic communications is a loss of “personal touch” in our daily interactions?
3. How could you strive to incorporate more non-verbal communication in your workplace relationships? Do you even think that is important? Explain your answer.
4. Which of the biblical principles about human interaction and communication seems most significant or meaningful to you? Why?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:
Proverbs 16:24; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Isaiah 43:4; Acts 13:2-3, 42-48; Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:2