Another Day, Another Win for Offline Communication

In yesterday’s post, I shared the results of a study that concluded that “the nature and quality of this sort of connection (Facebook/social media) is no substitute for the real world interaction we need for a healthy life.”

Well today there was an article by Vanessa K. Bohns on the Harvard Business Review web site that shared the results of a study which revealed that “A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful than an Email“.

However, the study also showed that most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective. The reason is that the requesters fail to anticipate what the recipients of their emails were likely to see: an untrustworthy email asking them to click on a suspicious link.

The researchers found that it was the nonverbal cues requesters conveyed during a face-to-face interaction which made all the difference in how people viewed the legitimacy of their requests, and respond in a more favorable way.

Bohns concluded that even though it may be more convenient and comfortable to use text-based communication than to approach someone in-person, you may overestimate the effectiveness of such media, and unknowingly choose inferior means of influence. The solution is simple – more face to face conversations.

There’s no doubt that email is a much easier, and less time-consuming approach for making a request, compared to face-to-face meetings.

And to me, I would think that the nature of the request can make a difference.

I’ve funded a few people who participate in things like MS Bike Rides and Cancer Walks, and the funding was done completely online, initiating with either a Facebook post or a direct email request.

I think such an approach (email) is certainly much easier for the requester. It’s also much easier for the donor to make a contribution, and I would think the organization raising the funds is likely to have more success in fundraising simply because of the sheer number of people you can ask, either through email or Facebook, compared to trying to schedule a meeting. I also think it is easier for the donor to say “no” when using email,since you get to avoid confrontation that is more apparent in a face-to-face meeting.

I think the takeaway from yesterday’s post and today’s is that we should not rely on technology for all of our communication needs.

It’s healthy to step away from our electronic devices and to chat with people. It’s a great way to not only build and maintain relationships, but possibly a more effective way to get people to say yes to our requests.


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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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