Have you ever watched the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show? There was a scene where Yanko, the weatherman, was getting drunk in a bar and blurted out to strangers about why they call a weather pattern “El Niño”.
“El Niño” originated in Peru and Ecuador, where it was used to refer to a warm ocean current that appears around Christmastime. The story has anchovies, birds, and fishermen. It's like the “Butterfly Effect” where something happens, that has nothing to do with us, but totally affects our world.
The concept of the butterfly effect is used in meteorology, physics, and social sciences, to explain the inherent unpredictability of complex systems
We live in a complex world of chaos. The difference today is that the amount and speed of data we have access to and consume, in the form of audio, video, text, and voice, can be overwhelming. We often tend to self-sanitize by consuming stories and narratives that affirm our worldview and values. That leads to compartmentalized communication.
So what can we do? We can start by listening to and understanding people who agree and disagree with our worldview. We need to invest in getting to know and relate to people in a more analog form.
Digital is fast and portable. It's computers 1s and 0s that travel through wires and through the air. It's capturable, repeatable, and transactional. And, it's the space where artificial intelligence lives and thrives.
If you think about it, digital relationships started in the 1990s. Email was coming of age, Palm Pilots and Blackberrys were everywhere, and websites were starting to pop up for large and small businesses.
In 2020, the pandemic started the Zoom meeting revolution. We went from 3-dimensional beings to 2D avatars. I have been using GoTo Meeting for years to save time and money not having to travel to business meetings.
Digital relationships also include the collection and use of data. We use data to try to segment and compartmentalize groups of people. Although this data is useful and helpful, it lacks the intimacy of a one-on-one relationship and personal interaction.
Analog is local and requires a wire to connect two points where information is shared. Generally, it requires a separate wire for audio, video, data, and more.
What's not seen is the electronics that convert content to electrical currents. The magnetic head read a tape or a needle that read a physical grove.
The iPhone made certain technologies (both analog and digital) cost more and become obsolete. Our homes, entertainment, and relationships have become less connected and independent and more interdependent on the wireless transfer of data.
Analog connections are always one point to another through a specific wire designed to optimize the transfer of a specific information channel.
When the internet goes down, almost everything stops working.
With analog connections, you can still watch, listen and engage.
The Power of Touch
Do you remember AT&T's commercials that asked us to, “Reach Out and Touch Someone”?
In today's society, there is an aversion to physical touch. There are some scripted exceptions (especially in sports and business) like the high-five, the handshake, the shoulder tap, the chest bump, and the occasional platonic hug.
There are certain subtleties that get lost in digital communications.
You may feel like meeting via Zoom is better or replaces the need to meet in physical locations, but there is a difference.
It's harder to read someone's eyes and body language via a computer camera and screen combination. It's also an investment from both parties to meet face-to-face.
Additionally, it's also hard to read subtleties like humor, sarcasm, sincerity, and trust when you solely rely on text, email, and other one-way digital communication.
Phone calls give some additional information, like pitch, inflections, pauses, ums and ahs, that add additional information to help us process what is really being communicated.
In-person meetings add facial expressions, body language, and more to the picture. Add to that, a handshake or a hug, and we have the core of what makes us human.
There is no turning back. Digital communications are here to stay. But just like we have seen a resurgence in vinyl record stores and sales, there is a time, place, and desire for a mix of analog and digital business communications.
Some of the bias and comfort level is generational. I am sure you have seen sales teams that range from Gen Z to Boomers. Younger generations have grown up only knowing digital technologies while boomers started out 100% analog.
Gen Z through Millenials are much more comfortable with text, social media, and digital technologies to build and maintain relationships.
Gen X through Baby Boomers tend to lean towards more analog methods of connecting.
I believe that knowing that a divide exists means that you have to embrace strengths and train for weaknesses. I also suggest that you will want to try to build separate systems to create awareness in your people of their own strengths and weaknesses and help them to see the benefits of homogenous communication methods.
It may be a good idea to have your teams mentor each other. Have your digital communicators show the analog ones the ins, outs, and benefits of digital communication tactics. Have your analog communicators bring the digital ones to in-person meetings and networking opportunities.
Get them both to discuss the subtleties of what happens after the communication is shared, and how they can integrate analog and digital communication styles to improve relationships with your customers, staff, and more.
Being a Chief Relationship Optimizer, I embrace technology and its repeatable and time-saving benefits. I also embrace the power of sitting down for a coffee, meeting for a meal, and attending networking events and conferences to enhance interpersonal relationships.
I believe that like the “El Niño” or the “Butterfly Effect“, each small interaction creates a wave that ultimately affects the world in ways that may not seem connected (especially via wire). It all adds to or subtracts from your ultimate sales and business success!
“We live in a digital world, but we're fairly analog creatures.”
– Omar Ahmad
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about analog and digital communications today! Do you have an intergenerational communications strategy that is working for you? What tips or techniques can you share that work for you and your business?
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.