Since the late 1990s, companies have become dependent on e-mail as their primary connection with outside clients and colleagues. They even prefer e-mail for internal communications (which means employees sitting just a cubicle-length apart are writing to, rather than talking to one another). We've become so reliant on our computers and BlackBerrys that we've neglected the art of conversation.
Technology is wonderful for improving speed, but it can have a detrimental effect on personal relationships. How many times have you sent an e-mail with the best intentions, only to have its message misconstrued on the other end? A short response sent in haste can easily be misinterpreted as a lack of care -- or worse, as a sign that you're angry.
The majority of meaning construed in conversation comes not from the words themselves, but from the speakers' facial expressions and body language, according to research conducted by UCLA psychology professor Albert Mehrabian [source: Inc]. Take gestures and smiles out of the equation, and recipients can easily get the wrong idea, especially when the sender isn't the most articulate writer.
There's a cure for technology overload: Pick up the phone once in a while and make a call. Better yet, take a little walk across the office and talk to your employees face-to-face.