Why Mobile Communication is Bad

This week is all about things that are bad for you and me. No, we are not talking about drugs, cigarettes, or sugar but rather about the things that make our communication ineffective. Would you be surprised to learn that mobile communication is on that list? 

Mobile communication is deceiving. It’s always accessible, enables better responsiveness, and seems to make us more productive. Standing in line? Why not reply to a couple of emails? Waiting for your train? Let’s try to close that thing we haven’t managed to discuss in the meeting. Effective, isn’t it? Well, not really. 

Being productive is not the same as being effective. Being responsive does not mean you communicate effectively. And being always accessible takes a toll on your well-being.

Here’s the hard truth: the more responsive we are, the more accessible we are, and the more communication channels we juggle simultaneously, the less effective we communicate. It’s simple physics. The more things we give our attention to, the less attentive we are to each of them. Effective communication requires high attention.

Be honest: How much time, on average, does it take you to respond to an email on your mobile device? How much time do you allow yourself to process a text message you receive before you send a reply?

When we are on the move, we cannot really invest in the content we read and react to. When we work on our mobile devices, our instinct is to scroll, not to focus. We adopt both the mindset and gestures of social media and unconsciously leave behind the practices of deep communication. We believe we achieve more, but we go for quantity at the expense of depth. 

If the lack of depth is not a good enough reason to ditch mobile communication, consider this: The shallower and less thought-out your responses are, the more follow-up messages you will get. If you are unclear or haven’t thought things through thoroughly, your conversation partners will trigger another round of interactions. So, even if your goal is to process more of your messages, communicating on the move means you increase the inflow of things you need to attend to.

Effective communication requires bandwidth, attention, and focus — none of which is typically possible on mobile, especially when you are on the move. It is better to delay your response until you are at your office and really focused on work. 

When you communicate on the move, you are standing in place.

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