How to Really (Connect) With People: Up Close and Personal, Part I

Apr 14, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

At the constant urging of my gunslinger husband I recently took a concealed carry class.

It was fun.

Chapter 6 of the National Rifle Association’s guide to the basics of personal protection in the home published in 2000, says that, “…encounters occur at very close range, often in reduced-light conditions, and are over in a matter of seconds. One study of Police shootings in a major urban area showed that the majority of encounters took place after dark, at three yards or less, in less than three seconds, and involved the firing of an average of three shots.”

The instructor called these events, “up close and personal.”

That’s where I got the idea for the name of this series.

In this series you’re going to learn effective communication techniques — the “up close and personal” ones.

We’re going to first touch on the traditional and emerging technologies that foster communication and then we’re going to delve in later chapters into the techniques that lead to real connection between people.

Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organization. It is central to the information society. —World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Declaration, A/4

We are more connected today to each other than at any other time in history yet in many ways we are also more alienated than we’ve ever been from one another.

Much of today’s technology allows us to live under the cover of connections.

Connection and communication are two different things.

Much of today’s communication happens in a variety of ways. I’ve broken them into two categories: Old World and Brave New World:



Instant Messaging

Electronic mail

Social Media Exchange

Cell Phone (Mobile)


Snail Mail


Land Line Telephone

Face-To-Face Communication


Beginning with the brave new world’s newest technology advances, texting, or text messaging, or SMS (short message service) refers to the exchange of brief written messages between fixed-line phone or mobile phone and fixed or portable devices over a network.

It is very popular with the young and seems to be the preferred method of communicating for them. Including spaces, text messages traditionally can’t exceed 160 characters, and failure rates can be high.

Text messages are either included in the cell phone bill voice plan or are added as an extra cost. SMS messaging is used pervasively around the globe.


Related to texting, instant messaging is a form of real-time direct text-based communication between two or more people using personal computers or other devices, along with shared clients.

Online chat is a subset of instant messaging in that it is direct one-on-one chat or text-based group chat using tools such as instant messengers, Internet Relay Chat, talkers, and possibly MUDs. The word chat is defined as “informal conversation.”


Electronic mail, commonly called email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks.

Email started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. It began to spread as an accepted medium of exchange in the late 1980s and continued into the 1990s and became widely accepted in the late 90s.

Recipients understand just over half of all email correctly with tone and language choices being the main culprits in misunderstanding.

The number of emails sent per day (294 billion/in 2010) means more than 2.8 million emails sent every second and some 90 trillion emails sent per year.

Around 90% of these are spam and viruses.

Around 1.9 billion email users — about 26% (1 in 5) of the Earth’s population — send emails from genuine accounts.

Estimates say that about 25% of all email accounts (730 million) are business accounts.


Social media exchanges use web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.

User-generated content is the fuel that social media thrives on with the added opportunity for individuals to dialogue in positions of social authority. That authority carries the added dimension of the message as marketing vehicle.

Never before has the effective (and ineffective) marketing message been carried to so many by so few.


A cell phone (mobile) is an electronic device used to make mobile telephone calls across a wide geographic area vs. the limited range a fixed landline offers within a home or office. It can bridge networks around the world by connecting to a cellular network owned by a mobile network operator.

Mobile phones support a wide array of the services just mentioned with handy Internet access, gaming, business applications, and photo services making them today’s “smartphones.”

One of the ironies to mobile is that cell phones are used to text rather than call by many young people. They’ve also become this younger generation’s primary digital music players, schedule keepers, and morning alarm clocks.

Beginning in the 1940s and in the 20 years from 1990 to 2010 worldwide mobile phone subscriptions grew from 12.4 million to over 4.6 billion, penetrating developing economies and reaching the bottom of the economic pyramid.

“Can you hear me now?” was Verizon’s astute response to customers’ (mostly unspoken) consideration of network reliability.

To me, it’s still the #1 problem with cell phones, and it’s hard for me to believe the quality issues still exist in the technology.

How reliable is your cell phone for having the clean, clear, and uninterrupted exchange required for business communications?


In existence in various forms since the 19th Century, a fax (short for facsimile) is a document sent over a telephone line that faces increasing competition from Internet-based alternatives. In some countries, because law does not recognize electronic signatures on contracts while faxed contracts with copies of signatures are, fax machines enjoy continuing support in business.


A phone line that travels through a solid medium, either metal wire or optical fibre, as opposed to a mobile cellular line, where transmission is via radio waves.

Telephones allow two people to talk to each other.

They have long been long been considered indispensable to businesses, households, and governments.


People to People (P2P) remains, today, the most powerful human interaction. Electronic devices can never fully replace the intimacy and immediacy of people talking with, and connecting to, each other.

Next week we’re going to get into the meat and potatoes of this series on communication meant to help you enhance your communication and interpersonal skills. The different parts will:

  • Explain the basic forms of communication in use today
  • Appreciate the value in listening (active, paraphrasing) as a communication technique
  • Help you understand the part feelings play in communication
  • Focus on how business communication differs from personal communication
  • Use both low and high technology appropriately
  • Tailor your message to your audience

I know the different forms of communication above have a lot of links. I encourage you to visit and read them. Their understanding will be valuable in the different parts of this series.

(Series intro)

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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