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Emails, Online and the Internet – are they really killing Professional Relationships?

The world doesn’t communicate like it used to. Humanity has gone from telephones being an expensive novelty only used by the super-rich, to everyone carrying one around. Instead of taking days to send a letter, messages seconds. In the last 20 years, this has accelerated even further – the advent of the internet has made worldwide communication so quick and simple that it’s easy to forget it was ever anything otherwise.

But one big criticism of the global communications boom is that it has “ruined professional relationships”. With email and various other messaging systems now ubiquitous, it’s possible, and indeed regular, to hold business conversations with people without ever speaking a word to them, over the phone or in person. Some may argue that this has made having a proper relationship with clients and suppliers obsolete. Are you really working “with” someone if you have no idea what they look, or even sound, like?

It’s a valid point – face-to-face meetings are less common than they were 20-30 years ago. But the question is, are professional relationships dying, or are they adapting to a modern world that the old style of relationship wouldn’t survive in? In the modern world, communication has become not a matter of your relationship with someone, but more a product of convenience for both parties. If you only need 5 minutes of someone’s time for a non-urgent issue, then a quick email while you work allows you both to get on with the urgent tasks, knowing that the issue will be handled but not having to disrupt someone’s workflow.

Commonplace impersonal communication also adds extra value to personal communication. Nowadays, when you call or are called by a client, it’s because you have something to discuss with them that needs proper personal input. If you have a meeting with them, it’s because you value their personal opinions, not just as a formality. Having a personal relationship with a client or supplier now indicates proper trust and a good business relationship – rather than 100 basic personal relationships, you now have 10 that have real value.

It’s easy to see the decline in personal communication as a decline in the value of personal relationships. However, we think it’s not a decline, just an updating. In a world where the majority of communication is now online, why would you insist on only being reachable in certain ways? At ASC, we understand the value of quick, simple communication, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve just dropped the idea of having any form of personal relationships. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – we value our clients and lenders, so we make sure we’re personally available to them, whenever they need. Impersonal communication may be commonplace, but that doesn’t mean that personal relationships aren’t valuable.

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