Face-to-Face with Success

PUBLISHED IN BUSINESS WORLD MAGAZINE.

I met an industry peer the other day. He wanted to propose a partnership. He hosted me at a new restaurant in Bangalore. Indonesian Cuisine. The food was sumptuous. But what got me was the quality of service. Consistently attentive, energetic and helpful. The server, the owner, my friend - everyone!


Professional’ is the word that came to mind. And ‘dependable’.


We had a great conversation about work and life as we ate. And I gave him the deal. How could I not, high on dopamine the way I was! But I had refused the exact same deal, just the previous day, to another acquaintance who had shared the idea with me on e-mail.


This got me thinking. A little research, and I found this on Harvard Business Review:

A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful Than an Email.

That means, if you need to send 200 Emails for a certain result (ROI), you need only SIX face-to-face interactions for the same result. Mind-blowing!


It turns out that we have been grossly over-estimating our virtual influence, and under-estimating our in-person persuasive skills!


According to psychology, ‘human presence’ leads to better understanding of intent and trust. Emotional Intelligence is complex, and it turns out that nearly 80% of communication is non-verbal! After all, e-mails can never have that glint in the eye or flush on the face! It’s not WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it.


With more than 5000 advertisements and requests badgering you each day from every direction, the HUMAN ELEMENT has now become the differentiator for business. Connections are reinforced not only through our words but also through our micro-expressions, body language and vocal inflection. A person’s energy, non-verbal cues and emotion make all the difference in their LEGITIMACY.


Besides, being present in-person tells people that you consider them important, and what you have to discuss is worth both their time and yours. Interacting directly with other leaders, managers and employees fortifies your network and establishes a RELATIONSHIP that can enhance future collaboration. Robotic, stiff contact can never breed camaraderie, and when it comes to influence – there are two keys – your interpersonal skills and your expertise, with people skills taking the lead.


Here’s another research that emphasizes this, by Carnegie Institute. Shockingly, 87% of your professional success comes from your communication skills, and only 13% from subject matter expertise. This one rocks the boat, doesn’t it! Why is it so? Simply because today, with better access to education and resources, there is an ample churn-out of skilled workforce. Every other person holds technical expertise in the corporate world! So how can you cut through the crowd and stand apart? Your PRESENCE and PEOPLE-CONNECT is the answer.


Meeting people has all kinds of benefits, not just professional! It can expand our world-view, improve our mood, destroy isolation and loneliness – which are rampant causes of mental illness today. We are comforted by the human touch. In fact, there is statistical research that proves that people are twice as likely to remember and like you if you’ve shaken hands with them!


We must set up practices where digital communication is used strategically, and personal communication is prioritized. With entertainment and hyper-connectivity in our pockets in the form of smartphones readily available all the time, we are becoming emotionally and cognitively deficit. Our memories, analytical thinking, creativity, concentration, reflection, mental resilience, self-awareness and wisdom – in other words, all that makes us human – is dwindling. It’s time we upgrade our impact and empathy.


Leaders are slowly discovering that the ‘secret sauce’ to a happy workplace is people-centric culture. Every aspect of work flourishes when business relationships are truer and stronger. If superiors communicate with employees face-to-face more often, with a give-and-take of ideas, performance can improve by 67%.


Yes, we know. We already know a lot of this. But then, we forget. We get busy. Transaction mode takes over. We forget ideals in Execution Fever!


But just remember – you can change your game, and another person’s day, by reclaiming your human touch with them, by reclaiming friendship. Relationships are currency, relationships are happiness and relationships are profit!

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