Nothing rivals a good conversation between close friends over good coffee. Texting between friends seems more like the Turing test where you try to discern whether the one replying is a machine or not.
Conversation occurs informally, systematically, and for the purposes of establishing and maintaining social ties. The development of conversational skills and etiquette becomes an important part of socialization.
One loses too much without personal contact. You miss the tone, context and body language. A thin argument can be made for social media such as Skype or FaceTime, but face it, the eye contact becomes lost as you focus from camera to screen.
There are several benefits to conversation:
Understanding and being understood.
I used to draft legal memos by laying out the issue, including a bit of legal analysis and following with a conclusion. This made the entire situation quite clear. Apparently, only in my own mind.
I eventually simplified my notes and used numbers to enumerate the various problems. I found that this still did not seem to clarify the situation.
I became more convinced that no one was getting to the bottom of my memos and it was better to have the conclusion at the beginning. This prompted me to move parts of the memo around.
When this didn’t make the issue clear, I went for the conversational approach. The verbal method along with the tone and body language finally made the necessary points. I only use the “Peter Pan” fists on hips stance in cases of dire emergencies.
This clarified to me how certain points can simply be lost in the noise of facts and other things that are just happening concurrently with everything else. The traditional format seems to bury information. This is similar to the PowerPoint that led to the Challenger disaster. They eventually found that the critical decision-making information was buried with all of the information. PowerPoint may be useful for presentation but seems to reduce the potential for any discussion of the various issues.
More self-confidence: Certainly discussing issues with actual people leads to better relationship building and confidence in one’s self.
More workplace value: Others can see greater value when complex ideas are presented simply. You can do this sometimes in a note, but the best customer interface is simply when you get out of the chair and speak to people about whatever issue they are facing.
Better relationships: Getting out of your chair also allows you to interact with people in a normal fashion. Asking about other people’s lives and what is going on with them is important not only for work purposes but this is what humans do.
If you have the time, I find bringing baked goods really helps the social interaction.