Communication in the Digital Age

Communication in the Digital Age

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We are fast becoming a world economy based on the communication of information. The speedy evolution of technology into our daily lives has allowed rapid global communication and networking to shape our modern society.

Our great Information Age, also known as the Computer Age or Digital Age, is the notion that our present era is characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer and communicate information freely, and to have instant access to information that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously.

Getting lost in translation

Most of us can remember that communication used to nearly always be face-to-face. And if not face-to-face, then a phone call on a telephone… with a cord attached to the wall! Nowadays, information is mostly relayed online or electronically. Subsequently, most of the traditional ways to read and interpret communication messages now go lost in translation.

Today, the receivers of our communication messages do not usually hear our voices and are consequently not able to read into the vocal tone which carries about 38% of the entire message in itself. Nor can Information Age communication receivers interpret your body language signals. These traditionally contribute 55% of the communication impact in the messages we send out.

The danger today is that when clients read your comments and documents, if they are having a bad day, or aren’t good at reading between the lines, they impose their personal perception filters on the information provided. Your original message may become completely mis-read, distorted and misunderstood. In Information Age communication conclusions are jumped to constantly!

Communication is becoming increasingly more impersonal and distant with people even breaking up relationships via text messages! Many people find technology an easy way to short circuit having to deal with people and the quagmire of human emotions. Relationships in the business world are tending to become ever more impersonal and logic-based. ‘The human factor’ is being marginalised and many people end up feeling isolated and frustrated.

The need to communicate

On the flip side, our need to communicate effectively has never been greater! Humans operate technology. We still need to be understood, appreciated and be communicated with professionally. Social Media demands that people grow their ability to write skilfully. Your writing ability ultimately determines how you are perceived on the world social media stage.

Voice recognition is increasingly becoming a mandatory tool to communicate with each other and with the technology itself. I am sure you have witnessed people cursing ‘Siri’ the virtual voice recognition assistant on their cell phones for misinterpreting their vocal commands.

In reality, 90% of the time most cell phone users mumble and have very weak and obscure voices that cannot be understood either by technology nor other humans! The need to learn to speak clearly is definitely becoming increasingly important.

Professional changes

Meetings and conferencing is also increasingly being conducted by skype and video conferencing. Many professionals are currently self-sabotaging by demonstrating a lack of confidence and the inability to communicate effectively over these media.

Many of our clients have approached us to help them navigate the challenges of communicating effectively in the Digital Age. These progressive organisations acknowledge the reputational risks involved in sabotaging their brands and communication messages through the complexities of communicating via technology.

Communication in the Digital Age may have evolved dramatically, but the necessity for excellent communication skills remains the same. Communication skills are actually now even more important with cues like body language and vocal tone being cut out of the communication equation. Your remaining tools to communicate with now need to be leveraged with even greater skill to compensate for the lack of face-to-face communication. In every era, communication skills triumph!

John French
John French is a highly respected communication strategist and high level communication skills trainer. He has been an industry expert for the last 16 years and is the founder of Corporate Intelligence Training: www.corporateintelligence.co.za