Face-to-face communication is one of the most important things in the Agile mindset in my opinion. This is why I don’t recognise the use of IM and e-mail as communication.
As many of you might know, communication is often broken down into three parts. Body language, making 55% of communication, tonality, making 38%, and the actual words themselves just 7%. Those numbers are mentioned in a study done by Albert Mehrabian in 1967 and are a valid in a particular situation. The numbers improve when the so called 3C’s are used, context, cluster and congruence. Let me explain what is ment with those three C’s:
- Context includes what environment the situation is taking place in, the history between the people, and other factors such as each person’s role.
- Clusters of nonverbal communication gestures prevents us from allowing a single gesture or movement to be definitive in determining a person’s state of mind or emotion. Crossing arms over your chest may be a sign of resistance or you are just sitting relaxed depending on the rest of your attitude.
- Congruence indicates whether the spoken words do match the tone and the body language of the person speaking.
Now we can have a long discussion on whether the numbers of Albert Mehrabian are correct or not but I think we can agree on the fact that WhatsApp, Telegram, e-mail, Slack and all the other messaging systems only uses the words themselves. Now we can add context to those words, and will have most of the times, but we cannot check the clusters of gestures and the congruence. We try to compensate this with the use of emoticons because we know we need the non-verbal communication as well.
In my opinion the use of e-mail, Slack, WhatsApp, etc. is merely correspondence instead of communication. And although it is a very fast way of correspondence it still isn’t communication as far as I’m concerned. I see a lot of unnecessary arguments and misunderstandings only because we assume WhatsApp and e-mail to be sufficient as communication if add enough smileys in the text.
Now can we please stop having correspondence and start communicating verbally with each other? It is proven to be a way more effective and efficient means of transporting information to another person…so my motto in this: “Just Talk“