Retain the human touch in communication

Since the mid-1990s, many of us have welcomed the speed and convenience in the way we communicate digitally.

The digital communication revolution changed our lives, but this came with collateral damage.

First, digital devices like smartphones and tablets brought about hypercommunicating that leads to message overload and distracted conversations, which in turn cause error-prone interactions.

These errors add stress to our lives and inflate problems, amplifying hypercommunication's negative impact.

Second, to cope with hypercommunication, we tend to embrace quick and easy communication instead of productive and meaningful conversations.

Third, productive and meaningful communication requires effective interpersonal communication skills.

With the digital age, this has become marginalised by the rise of personal and mass communication. These resulted in many unnecessary misunderstandings, lawsuits and even suicides.

Successful communication in the digital age requires both digital and higher-order communication with a human touch.

For important issues at work or at home, it is still best for two people to talk and interact face to face, and not engage in exchanges of a dozen e-mail or chat messages.

It is crucial that we retain the human touch in communicating with others even as we welcome more advanced digital devices that we cannot do without.

Chua Kin Hua

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Retain the human touch in communication'. Print Edition | Subscribe