We use the Internet to help us interact with others, but we miss out on communicating effectively when we only talk online. Outside of video, all of our communication online is through text. We use email for professional correspondence, social media for personal interaction, and dating apps to help us with romance.
The Internet helps us connect with others, but what is being missed when we communicate online? What are we failing to communicate to our co-workers when we only email? How do we emotionally connect with someone once we swipe right? Is there something else our friend is trying to tell us through social media?
Here are three things we fail to communicate online.
Emojis are fun and cute. They help us express feelings that text cannot. But we can’t fully express emotions without in-person interaction. We can’t fully express how excited we are for our friend who just got a promotion at work or how sad we are to hear about the death of a loved one. We can attempt to express emotions through text and emojis, but we will always fall short of what in-person conversations can communicate.
When we fail to communicate the anxiety, surprise, or anger we feel, the person we are talking with may not fully understand where you are coming from. They may respond in a way that is not as supportive as you wanted or needed. You may in turn become more frustrated because you feel they are not listening to you. If we want others to have a better chance at understanding us, it’s best to talk in-person. That way emotions can be expressed, understood, and responded to appropriately.
When we talk with someone, most of what is communicated is unspoken. Body language and unspoken messages cannot be communicated online. Body language plays a huge part in communicating effectively and improving our relationships with others.
If you are trying to connect with someone, what we do with our body makes a big difference. When you interact face-to-face, one thing you can do is can lean forward and look at them in the eyes. This communicates you are interested in what they have to say. It says you are giving them your undivided attention and what they have to say is important. Without saying a word, you communicated to that person they are valuable. As a result, they feel more connected with you.
ALL CAPS SAYS YOU’RE YELLING! Punctuation can emphasize some things. We can communicate joy by saying, “I love you so much!” But the power of that message is lessened through the Internet. When we say, “I love you so much” in-person, we communicate on a deeper level than we could online. We can sincerely look at someone and say it with heartfelt meaning in our voice. How we say something makes the message more impactful and sends a stronger message than can ever be said online.
Many times, how something is said is more important that what is said. What we say in a text can have a completely different meaning when it's said with a certain tone in-person. If our friend’s mom just died, we could send a text saying, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” But that message would be so much more heartfelt and meaningful when we say it in-person. Tone of voice helps us connect on a deeper level that words alone are incapable of doing.
The Biggest Benefit of Talking In-Person (Hint, it's not about you!)
The biggest benefit we get from in-person conversations is our ability to fully listen. We have the privilege to really listen to and understand who we are speaking with when we talk in-person. We can see things from their perspective by listening to their emotions, tone, and body language more than we ever could online.
When we see things from another's perspective and communicate we see where they are coming from, they feel more connected with you. They feel heard and understood. We are unable to connect on a deeper level with others online because we are unable to fully listen online.
Online communication is essential for most of us. But remember to embrace in-person interactions. We need real-life conversations to develop deep, meaningful relationships. It can feel awkward to not know what to say or to have a lull in the conversation. But that’s okay. There is authenticity in those moments which creates the opportunity to be vulnerable and connect with each other.
Give yourself permission to talk more with others in-person. See what happens when we fully listen to other’s emotions, tone, and body language. See how others respond when we wholly engage in conversation. Most importantly, see how your relationships are strengthened when you effectively communicate in-person.