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Try talking to each other

Career News Service-Tweeting, texting, and email have made it almost impossible to have meaningful face-to-face communication, and that's not helping your career.

While technology has given us more and more ways to quickly communicate over great distances, most people are losing the basic skills and abilities to communicate in the most effective and influential way: face-to-face.

So says Stacey Hanke, management consultant and author of  Yes You Can.
 
"There's a real danger to the maintenance and perpetuation of meaningful communications and personal and professional relationships," she believes. "If you become overly dependent on email or text messages, you focus on the object, but not the person."  
 
Hanke explains that tweets, text messages, email and Facebook posts, all transmit words over distances so they can be received without presence of the sender.  The human element and context is absent. 
 
"It's a one-sided blast -Take that! Click!" she observes.  "You cannot communicate meaningfully with 140 spaces! All you can say is "Wassup!"
 
These messages are typically short, sequential, controlled and directed. There's no instantaneous interaction or connection that allows the other person to understand the tone, inflection or emotion that is carried with the words. The sender cannot express or effectively project the elements of trust, confidence, credibility, warmth, empathy, and concern that are crucial to developing and building a personal relationship.  The recipient cannot perceive these elements either. 
 
That failure to convey the feelings that accompany the words so people build trust, credibility, and understanding can have a phenomenal impact on business and success.
 
Meaningful communications that carry these powerful and important characteristics can only be achieved in face-to-face interactions. 
 
Communicating with impact and achieving influence with people is not only about what you say-it's also how you say it. You have influence on others because you see their face, observe and experience their emotion, and actively listen and engage their interest and support and build relationships. 
 
You know it's probably time for a face-to-face when:
 
* You no longer really understand what is important to your listener.
* You think they have become bored or are losing interest in you or your message.
* You feel they are no longer listening and do not understand you.
 
There are also certain topics of conversation where face-to-face communication will absolutely be the best way to achieve clarity and understanding needed for mutual success and beneficial action.
 
* Negotiating salaries, vacations, termination;
* Resolving a dispute, a challenge or a conflict between two or more people or organizations;
* Seeking clarification after written communications has failed.
 
Face-to-face communication is a very crucial skill.  It requires you to focus.  You have to be able to be comfortable in the presence of other people for more than a few minutes. 
 
Communicating with impact and influence face-to-face also requires discipline, determination, and self-control.
 
Here are some of her best recommendations:
 
1. Make your moments together count.  Everyone has the right to speak.  Listen before you speak. Earn the right to be heard.  Think about what you want to say before you say it. Make every communication moment worth you and your listener's time.  Every word counts.  Think before you speak.  Tailor what you say to meet your listener's needs.
 
2. Pay attention by listening for the unspoken emotions. Concentrate on the speaker closely.  Focus intently on their face.  Do not let your eyes dart away and drift off, since that signals you are no longer paying attention.  Do not interrupt.  Wait to speak only when the person has finished what they want to say.  Hear their words and read their face so that you gain maximum understanding of the why behind their words.
 
3. Honor the other person's space and time.  Prepare ahead of time. Match the message to the opportunity. Get to the point quickly. Don't frustrate your listener by taking too long to get the key message across.  Don't ramble and clutter your message with unnecessary points.  Ask for the right action. Be clear and be specific. Watch the time. Don't take 20 minutes when you only asked for ten. Show you know how to respect the other person.
 
4.  Prepare for your face-to-face meeting ahead of time.  K.N.O.W. your listener.
 
• K - What does your listener know about your topic?
•                    N - What does your listener need to know to take the action you want them to take in the time frame you have for this conversation?
• O - What is your listener's opinion about your topic?
• W - Who is your listener?  What additional information do you know about your listener to help you customize your message for them?
 
Tailor your agenda and message to achieve the understanding you need and to influence your listener to act on what you have to say.
 
5. Watch Your Body Language. Avoid non-verbal abuse.  Every movement you make counts.  Control your facial expressions. Don't smile, snicker, whistle, roll your eyes, or grimace, look sideways, wink, or send the evil eye. Your behavior and non-verbal cues are as important as the words you say.   Don't fidget, act nervous, express fear, or allow your posture to convey uncertainty, insincerity, lack of caring, arrogance, overconfidence, dismay or criticism.
 
6.  Be Sincere and Authentic. Speak in your authentic voice. Be sincere, be genuine and allow others to see the real you. 
 
7. Maintain the Power of the Floor. Be interesting.  If you see the signs that you are no longer the center of attention:
 
• Your listener begins working on their Blackberry, iPad, IPhone, etc.
• Your listener starts nodding off.
• Your listener begins to have side conversations.
• Your listener interrupts you.
 
Stop. Break the flow. Earn their attention.  Get back on track.
 
8. Ask for Feedback. Face-to-face communications is a two way street.  Balanced feedback allows people to be relaxed and comfortable. However, when people start feeling comfortable they also may become lazy and lose their professionalism.  Don't forget who you are and what you are doing. Maintain your self-control. Ask for specific feedback...about the points you raised, the manner in which you presented, the way you responded. Ask for balanced feedback about how to improve and immediately begin applying this feedback.
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