Communication time management digitization: That's why video conferences are not enough

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Much was criticized about digitization and its negative impact on communication, but we also had to determine how systemically important it is. Time to think about how we deal with technology.

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Here writes for you:


Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Instituts Berufebilder Yourweb.


Asynchronous communication saves time

Especially because of the latest developments, we are communicating increasingly asynchronously: either not at the same time or because our conversation partner is not in the same place as we are.

This is practical and saves time - on the one hand. But this selective perception makes our exchange poorer, experts say. We miss important experiences because we no longer leave an encounter to chance.

Digitization: it promotes the brutalization of customs

The Internet is changing our communication behavior drastically and maybe not always to our advantage. The question that people like to argue about is: Is technology to blame for the problem - or are we users?

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I recently looked at Best of HR –® an exchange of blows on a topic that is often discussed in internet circles: namely the question of whether the internet is to blame for the brutalization of communication habits - or the user himself.

Communication: everything was better in the past

Well, at first it was about the more fundamental question: Has communication changed at all, are the customs brutalized and was everything better in the past - or not?

For example, the happy and extensively discussed topic of whether everything was really better in the past: Perhaps the smartphone is actually just the aid that prevents you from staring at yourself in public transport and accidentally fixing certain body parts of fellow human beings inadvertently?

Is the lack of self-discipline to blame?

Nevertheless, there are always aspects in this discussion that make me think - precisely because I used to have exactly the same opinion and now see a few things differently.

Is our misdirected communication really a problem of technology or rather a lack of self-discipline and Respect towards its surroundings? Because even if the new technology makes permanent availability possible, it doesn't force you to do it, does it?

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Do we allow ourselves to be enslaved by the cell phone in our pockets?

It is certainly not the technology that compels us to treat our people with disrespect, and it is certainly our own fault if we constantly have to stare at the cell phone in the restaurant.

Accordingly, I consider experiments such as "Half a year without the Internet" to be complete nonsense. And yet: that now that we can do it, we don't just switch off the cell phone in our pockets, but also after the end of the day from bosses and eMailLet s enslave for another reason:

Self-discipline asked: Our brain cannot leave things behind

Our brains are simply not made to just leave things behind. On the contrary, it literally ensures that we always keep in mind everything we still have to do, what we have planned or what we should still respond to. And so, for example, makes us the one that has not been answered eMail the boss constantly nervous and restless.

To dismiss this as a lack of self-discipline falls short and not only ignores the reality of human behavior, but also stamps those who cannot discipline themselves as failures.

Adaptation to modern communication is the next leap in evolution

We can and should learn how to use modern communication channels. Especially when you look at discussions on the Internet today, especially in social media, where all emotions are left out - and this can be positive or negative - you can see very clearly that this is still a long way for many people.

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However, I now believe that this learning step can be achieved more slowly than we imagine or wish today and will vary greatly depending on the level of education and previous knowledge of the respective person. For me, this adaptation of people to modern communication is therefore the next evolutionary leap - and it cannot be achieved overnight.

Medi Richness Theory: Which form of communication is worth more?

Which form of communication is more "worth" - that on the Internet or that of two people sitting opposite each other? I am very clear for the latter. If that was only a vague feeling so far, I can now explain it with a scientific expression thanks to a reader comment:

Media Richness Theory - in German “Media Richness Theory”. The more complex the issue, the more media should be used to transmit all of the content. The time difference between the two forms of communication should be as small as possible.

The problem with video conferencing: important content is missing

That is exactly the problem with modern communication media: Our communication partners simply capture content better, faster and more correctly when they are right in front of you - if only because you can use gestures and facial expressions to get immediate feedback and to provide missing information accordingly.

The more delayed the communication, the more difficult it is to get information across correctly. This also applies to video conferences, which are often seen as a panacea for long-distance communication.

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Small signals decide the communication

Just think how difficult it is to perceive smaller signals such as frowning or clearing of the throat, even during video transmissions. But then a very important part of the communication is missing.

And it seems improper for many people to talk in between to make themselves heard. Conversely, speakers must also speak clearly. Therefore, in my opinion, video conferences are not comparable to normal conferences.

The problem with internet addiction

Internet addiction, the pathological ability to stop when clicking, is also a subject of heated debate in Germany. Mechthild Dyckmans, the federal government's drug commissioner, even wants this behavior to be classified as an illness. The study showed, for example: 0,7 percent of all 25- to 64-year-olds in Germany can no longer get away from online games or social networks and neglect their social life.

The study results are not without controversy. Critics consider internet addiction to be just another form of depression in which existing social problems are manifest. But overall one should ask the question: does the internet make you lonely?

Increase in asynchronous communication

Sociologist Simon Edwin Dittrich has extensively dealt with how the changing communication behavior affects individuals and society for a collection of the Heinrich Böll Foundation on the topic #public_life - digital intimacy, privacy and the Internet.

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According to his observation, modern technologies lead above all to an increase in asynchronous communication. This means conversations in which the conversation partners either do not act at the same time or do not act in the same place. As an example, Dittrich mentions writing text messages while eating. On page 100 of the # public_life volume, he says:

“When I was a child, it would have been unthinkable to get up from the dinner table to answer the phone. When I eat with friends today, it happens more often that several of us look at their phone, eMailCheck s, write SMS, tweet or on Facebook write. Of course, there is always criticism from people who find it impolite if you do not give them your full attention. But the vehemence is decreasing. "

Narrowed perception and tunnel vision

For Dittrich this is not just a singular phenomenon, it also has an impact on our society: For example, many passengers on trains no longer talk to each other, but to other, distant conversation partners via cell phone or laptop. So instead of communicating with the immediate environment, people are increasingly speaking selectively with people they have chosen themselves. But that makes the perception more selective and the exchange poorer: Much information that one would get by chance in a conversation among travelers - the serendipity - falls by the wayside.

Put figuratively: The tunnel view of mobile communication can prevent your own horizons from expanding. For Dittrich, this creates a public space in which, paradoxically, above all, private actions are carried out - for example, when people are arguing on the bus using a mobile phone and everyone is aware of the dispute. Exactly from these gaps it is difficult to get out afterwards, as Dittrich states, because they are not really private:

Image change in the network?

“With the traces we leave behind in the public spaces, it will be more difficult to completely change an environment. In any case, it is not as 'easy' as moving from Klein-Gummersbach to Hamburg, because our online profiles remain unchanged. ”

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An experience, which also made Vivian pain. She was a community manager at Xing and was also perceived as such on the internet. She had contributed to this with her numerous activities in and around the network. But then she moved to the logistics company Hermes as a social media manager. The problem: Many of their online contacts did not even notice the job change - and still speak to them as Xing employees.

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