Is Modern Technology Helping or Hindering Communication?
You can’t turn the telly on or open up the newspaper without seeing an expert bemoaning the end of human communication as we know it. After all, with myriad new forms of communication made available in the past few decades (internet, SMS, smartphones, iPads, streaming TV, news on demand), the ways in which we speak and relate to one another has faced an irrevocable change. This isn’t going to change, and if anything, it’s going to continue to morph and change in ways that we can’t even imagine.

The real question is not “Is modern technology a good thing?”, as that question is tantamount to asking, “is the sun a good thing?” No matter what your ultimate answer, they're both here to stay! Instead, the more relevant questions become, “In what ways does communication help and hinder communication?” and “How can we flip the script on these negative aspects to see them in a more positive light?”

The positives of modern communication…

It’s easy to start with the positives of modern communication. After all, the technological advances of the internet, satellite television and affordable mobile phones have brought the world together like never before. Here are some of the most obvious positives of modern communication.
  • The world is your shopping mall – You never have to search in vain for any consumer item again, as you can order almost anything your heart desires with the click of a button, direct to your door.
  • Staying in touch with loved ones – Modern technology has allowed us to stay in touch with people from around the world. From the most remote village in Siberia to a thriving metropolis in Africa, staying in touch has never been easier.
  • Errands can be completed online - You no longer need to go inside a bank or post office to complete your daily tasks, thus saving you heaps of time, energy and money.
  • You can work from anywhere in the world – Depending on your industry and your job title, you can often complete and submit your work from anywhere in the world with an internet signal (which is most places in first world countries).
  • You can get the best deals - You can browse flights and prices for almost anything, meaning that you can often secure the best deals.
  • The world’s knowledge is at your fingertips – While the Library at Alexandria was a wonder of the ancient world, the world has never compiled a repository of knowledge the likes of the internet.
  • You can travel the world without ever leaving your home – While nothing can compare to the experience of travelling and experiencing other cultures first hand, the internet allows you to learn about the world’s languages, cultures and food.

… and some potential downfalls of modern communication

While there’s no denying that the above points have their positives, there are many people who look at them and shake their heads, worried about their repercussions. For every positive aspect about the list above, some point out many negatives, worried that we are encouraging generations of lazy, entitled, distracted and impersonal citizens.

Sure, you might be able to contact your loved ones online, but are you really ‘connecting’ with them the way you would in person? You might message a business contact via email, but is this better than sitting down and talking about the matter together? While some experts argue that these are simply new ways of communicating and cannot be judged as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ against each other; they are simply different. They also point out that people in the past decried the advent of the telephone (and the telegraph before it) for the very same reasons.

That said, communicating by text and email can feel much more impersonal, and it can be easier to dismiss a concept or say ‘no’ via email than in person. Of course, this has hindered some professionals more than others, including salespeople. When your sales and commissions depend on interpersonal communication, you are likely to be very worried about any changes that you view as detrimental to said communication.

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Transforming these negatives to positives

While detractors claim that we are far too reliant on mobile devices, the internet and social media, it is clear that these technologies are not only here to stay, but that they’ll continue to advance. One of the most proactive things one can do, therefore, is to start thinking about ways to harness the most constructive aspects involved and transform the negatives into positives.

Let’s again return to the salesperson who feels beleaguered by modern communication methods, and wishes he or she could return to a more personal approach. There is actually a whole host of modern technology that can facilitate this strategy. If you can’t get in touch with potential client via email (or if you prefer to contact them in a more effective way) you can always get in touch via LinkedIn. As a social media platform designed to help professionals connect with one another, LinkedIn can provide a salesperson with a lot of valuable information they would have struggled to acquire in the past. This information can then be used to perfect the ideal sales pitch, and ultimately to help to close the deal.

While the face-to-face transactions of the past may have felt more ‘authentic’ and personal, this modern approach can also facilitate a personalised transaction. In fact, by thinking outside the box and utilising the new tools available to you, you might even find that your communication style has improved, and you are able to do your job far more efficiently than ever before.

While change can be frightening and confusing at first, it is a constant – and we are all along for the ride! By approaching new communication technologies with an open mind and a sense of creative inquiry, you can transform your career, boost your bottom line, and engage in richer, more rewarding exchanges with others.

P.S. In case you wondering about your own communications abilities, we have a free test that will give you instant, personalised feedback on those skills, and it can be found here.

Want to Communicate More Effectively?

Activia offers online, public and onsite courses to match your needs.