Sometimes you just have to sit down and talk with folks. In person, face-to-face conversations have so many benefits. There should be an infomercial on the unlimited benefits of talking, listening and talking some more. Here is a list of some of the best benefits that I find with face time:
1. You get instant feedback
When you speak with someone in person you get instant feedback from them. They will tell you how they think and feel in real time. They will show you facial expressions. Their body language will tell you all sorts of things.
2. You can speed up or slow down.
When you are in the same room with someone you can vary the pace in which you cover certain topics. Because you are getting instant feedback, you know where people are in sync with you and you can speed up, and where they may disagree or have issues so you know can slow down to discuss those topics in more depth.
3. You can look them in the eye.
It has been said that the eye is the window to the soul. The more emotion you have in an interaction with someone, the more impactful the communication will be. You do not have to be charismatic for this to be true or a benefit. Just the simple act of taking time to pause and look someone in the eye is one of the most powerful communication pathways.
4. Your time is valuable.
This concept is usually used in reverse. Everyone seems to be trying to save time. People want to be efficient. Somehow this has turned into a quest to remove all "wasted" meeting time from our lives. I agree with eliminating wasteful tasks. But be careful not to remove face time with people. The benefit of meeting with someone in person is that they realize, even if subconsciously, that your time is valuable. And therefore, by you giving them some of your time, you’re showing that you value them. That alone is a powerful benefit of being with people in person.
5. You can ask questions.
Oh, the value of questions! Some of the most fruitful conversations I have ever had involved me asking questions to learn about someone, what they were experiencing, what their goals were and how I might help. When you are in person, you can learn from others, which takes conversations in all sorts of rewarding journeys.
This month I am holding a series of sessions on the culture at Benefitfocus. It’s face-to-face with all associates. Rather than shoot a video for everyone to watch on their own, I chose to do the sessions in person. This will involve about 20 separate one-hour sessions in different locations at different times, and we’ll track who was able to make it.
Why not focus purely on efficiency? Because I want to be in the room with groups of people who can give me feedback, can see me adjust to what they are thinking and hear their thoughts. One day last week I did five sessions in a row. I was a bit dizzy by the end of the day, but it was so fantastic to have group after group of smart, fun and engaged people participating.
Culture is very important to any company, and it’s intrinsic to what we’re doing at Benefitfocus. How you shape it and how you encourage folks has a lasting impact. The time you invest with people, in person, will always pay you back. As you work to make your schedule more efficient and have less waste, be sure to use that newly created time for purposeful time with people.