Technology gives us the ability to easily find time on calendars to meet, chat virtually with someone many time zones away, or visually share information in real time. Technology can also help communication happen more quickly and efficiently. However, technology still can’t do one thing quite yet — it can’t think for you. Sure Siri can find the closest sushi restaurant, but she can’t build relationships or resolve conflicts.
With texting, chatting, e-mailing, and all the other tools at business leaders’ fingertips, sometimes getting up and having a face-to-face conversation just doesn’t happen, or at least doesn’t happen as frequently as it did before. By no means should organizations go back to interoffice mail and logistically challenging meetings, but critical communication can’t be done in an e-mail. There’s no way around it. Sending a note in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS does little to build relationships in the face of conflict.
Leadership and time management guru Stephen Covey stated that slowing down in relationships is the only way to move fast -critical conversations helps you to do just that. Sending off an email, typing a text, or dictating orders may seem like a fast way to get your point across, but when you try to hurry up in relationships it almost always results costing more time in the end. Often impatience is returned with an equally hasty response, and sometimes hostility. It may take about 30 seconds to send a colleague a note to let them know you are frustrated, but it could potentially take years to repair the relationship if the other person takes offense.
Dr. Christina Schlachter, PhD, is the author of Critical Conversations and Leading Business Change, part of the New York Times bestselling For Dummies series. Christina works with leaders to motivate and engage their employees through positive conversations and performance leadership.