Profile pictures to productivity

9 Nov , 2012 Blog,Food for Thought

Business in this day and age obviously runs primarily on email and telephone. However isn’t it quite odd how the majority of the email addresses and telephone numbers we communicate with don’t  have faces? I know that sounds weird, so I’ll explain myself. We think we know these people very well, communicating between offices, counties and countries, often for several years without ever seeing their face?

As emotional beings, we naturally treat people differently depending on how they look, whether we like it or not. It is not the ‘right’ thing to do, but unfortunately happens subconsciously so we have very little control over it. The reason I am writing on this subject is because having recently connected with several colleagues in the US on LinkedIn and discovered something that troubled me more than I thought. I noticed in some cases, my mental image of their personality was perfectly reflected by an image of them, and in other cases it totally conflicted. I don’t believe that I have consciously changed the way I conduct my business with this person, but re-reading email exchanges, it has unmistakeable changed in tone and style. The tone became more casual, emails became a lot shorter, and we felt we could get in touch far more frequently, just through feeling like we knew more about each other.

There are pros and cons to being casual in the work place, but I am a firm believer that being friendlier and less formal in and around the office ultimately results in higher productivity. People are more likely to speak their minds, thus saving time, and also we will all have a far better time of it all!

As more and more people are developing professional social media networks, sharing details of our past experience, our education and our interests, we are bridging the gap between formal and casual, effectively doing what ‘after work drinks’ does on a national and international scale. I am sure that most people will agree that getting to know your colleagues in the pub has so many benefits, and it is probably (although we don’t like to admit it) where many of today’s important business decisions are made!

Whether we like it or not, we will always subconsciously judge a book by its cover based on stereotypes. When you can actually picture the real face of someone, it can really help you to relate to them and treat them as a human rather than simply a cog in a machine. You feel you know them that little bit more, so ultimately lower your guard slightly and become friendlier, more open and more productive. So I really urge you all to go out and connect with all those mystical email addresses and telephone numbers of those you work with, from all around the globe, as it will make your time at work not only more casual and engaging but also more productive.


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