The Importance of Human Touch in Business
By PJ Stevens
Why is Human Touch ever more important in this digital-first world?
In a digital-first world, where communication and interactions are increasingly mediated by technology, the human touch remains important for a number significant reason. This article will highlight some of these. Do you agree or disagree, I would welcome your feedback.
During the amazing technological breakthroughs and challenges of Covid, I think we have in part lost or forgotten the importance of human connection and touch. In recent studies and diagnostics with clients over the last two years, we have seen a number of specific business challenges that are linked to the human elements of business, these include: trust, teamwork, collaboration, communication, well being, leadership and personal development.
So why does the Human Touch matter? Here are a number of poiints for your consideration.
Emotional Connection: The human touch fosters emotional connections that are difficult to replicate through digital means. Physical interactions, facial expressions, and body language allow for a deeper understanding of emotions and intentions, enhancing empathy and rapport between individuals. We are, after all, emotional beings.
Trust and Authenticity: Personal interactions can build trust and authenticity. Seeing and interacting with a real person can help establish credibility and legitimacy, especially in current virtual environments where scams and misinformation prevail. People's level of trust in Businesses, Media and Governments is declining, and it seems our clients are noticing this internally between deartments.
Effective Communication: Nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, play a crucial role in communication. These cues can provide context and nuance to conversations that are often lost in digital exchanges leading to conflict, midsunderstanding and failing relationships. ( According to Dr. Mehrabian, 93% of communication is non-verbal. Whilst this is widely shared, it is not necessarily an accurate figure)
Problem Solving and Collaboration: Complex problem-solving and collaborative tasks benefit from real-time interactions. The human touch enables immediate feedback, brainstorming, and the ability to adapt strategies creatively and quickly. In-person problem solving tends to tap into the braoder 'collective intelligence' giving rise to higher levels of out put and opportunities.
Conflict Resolution: Addressing conflicts or misunderstandings is far more effective when done face-to-face or through direct communication. Digital communication can sometimes lead to further misunderstandings due to the absence of nonverbal cues, lack of connection and investment. To understand and overcome conflict we need to understand the person (people) - there needs, preferences and situation - and connect with them so they feel understood and listened to.
Personalisation: Personalised experiences are a cornerstone of effective communication and marketing. The human touch allows for tailored interactions based on individual preferences, needs and emotions. The notion of a Corporate Golf Day, a Coaching Walk, Training & Development are just afew examples of tailored and more personal experiences.
Well-being and Mental Health: Human interactions contribute to emotional well-being and mental health. In a digital-first world, where people can feel isolated, a genuine human connection can provide comfort and reduce feelings of loneliness. Physical touch can reduce heart rate and blood pressure and help us to feel calmer and less stressed.
Learning and Development: Education and skill development often benefit from hands-on guidance and mentorship. The human touch in the form of coaching, feedback, and personalised support can significantly enhance the learning experience. When I started work, the first few months were primarily about following Partners around, watching, listening and learning about how things 'worked' in the business.
Creativity and Innovation: Brainstorming and creative processes are often more dynamic and productive in group settings. The human touch encourages spontaneous idea generation and collaborative thinking. An excellent example of this, is the Open Space style of workshops and group problem dolving and learning. There are articles on this forum about the value of Open Space in business and business improvement.
Customer Satisfaction: In customer service and support, human interaction can greatly improve the overall experience. Complex issues, emotional concerns, and personalised assistance can often be more effectively addressed by a human touch or interaction. This links to trust, understanding and problem solving (solutionising) as noted prior.
Cultural Nuances and Diversity: Human interactions are enriched by cultural nuances and diversity. A diverse range of perspectives and backgrounds can lead to more inclusive and insightful conversations. With DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) higher up on most companies agenda, getting people together will be vital.
These ideas are far from exhaustive, but are ones we see more regular in our client work. Please do send us your ideas and inputs on this topic.
While technology offers great convenience, efficiency and almost immediate access to a global networks, it cannot fully replace the depth and richness of human interactions. Striking a balance between digital convenience and the human touch is essential for maintaining meaningful relationships, effective communication, and a sense of shared humanity in a digital-first world.
Business Improvement Network
One of the reasons the Business Improvement Network exists is to bring people together, to 'Connect, Share and Learn' from and with each other by tapping into the wealth of knowledge, creativity and experience that exists in us. There is huge potential in people in businesses, and the Human only elements of business are key to accessing this resource.
About the author
PJ Stevens is an expert in organisational change, performance and improvement, with 20 years experience. He is chair of the business improvement network.
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