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To say the last year and a half has been novel is an understatement. The pandemic shook the business world to the core. Those businesses who were resistant to change had a tough time keeping up, let alone competing with others. Those tools or processes that were inflexible had to go and new adaptive, more responsive protocols, tools, and resources were put into place. The pandemic pushed innovation—out of necessity for survival—to the forefront of every business.

One of those changes was the use of virtual meetings. I feel like I went a solid year without seeing my business contacts except through the fingerprint smudged screen of my laptop. When we started getting back together, although awkward, it was much needed.

Recently, I began to reflect on the past 18 months and the many changes in our lives that were forced upon us. I wonder how it affected us and how the future will look.

Some have said that in-person meetings may be outdated.


I do not believe this to be true.

In fact, I would say that those who do meet in person will have not only a strategic advantage over their competitors but will experience a measurable health and wellness benefit over others who chose not to meet.

Below is a list of reasons why my assertions are true:

  1. We are human and humans require face-to-face interactions. In psychology, we have a term called Social Facilitation. When one is in the presence of another our autonomic nervous systems activate. If the interactions are positive our neurons will release serotonin and dopamine, which gives us those warm fuzzy sensations we get when we are in groups.
These neurotransmitters are essential for mood regulation. When we are in a good mood, our futures seem brighter, our lives seem satisfying, we even like our jobs more. These positive moods also help us build strong, long-lasting relationships. I will come back to social facilitation later.
  1. Face-to-face interactions produce less ambiguity. Humans have adapted to understand Paralanguage—nonverbals. Experts say that around 80% of all communication is nonverbal. Did you hear that? 80%! Most of our conversation with another has more to do with our body movements, facial expressions, etc.
Even in a Zoom meeting where we see other faces, most of the meaning on the conversation is lost between parties. This leads to ambiguity. Ambiguity within an interaction leads to anxiety and frustration. The only way to avoid these situations is to have these conversations in person.
  1. Most face-to-face interactions are conducive to a higher rate of focus. How many of you have given in to the temptation of working on other items, answering text messages, or listening to the kids fighting in the other room while on a Zoom call? I know I have. And we are not alone, 67% of meeting attendees report being distracted during virtual meetings. The truth is that when we are using alternative means of conversation, we are prone to distractions.
When we are face-to-face, sure there are distractions, but others can read your nonverbals and make the appropriate changes in the interaction to account for the distraction. When we are together, we communicate more clearly and are less prone to environmental distractions.
  1. Our businesses depend on long-lasting relations that can only be established by face-to-face encounters. Let us get back to the concept of social facilitation. According to psychological science, people tend to perform tasks better, faster, and enjoy doing them more when we are around other people. It is a real thing. We have adapted to the need to be around other people to be operated at optimal levels. This can only be done through social interaction—being in group settings.
Additionally, for the salespeople reading this, customers are more likely to say “Yes” when meeting in-person than in virtual settings. It should also be mentioned, as you may well know, first impressions go a long way in the development of working relationships. However, research has shown that virtual first impressions are not as impacting as face-to-face interactions.


Again, this goes back to the way humans have adapted to innately desire the presence of other people. Finally, meeting and mixing with others sparks conversation that can lead to innovation and collaboration.

Greater Lafayette Commerce wants your businesses to grow and be successful, we know that relationships can help facilitate that growth. So, as vaccination rates climb and we settle back into normalcy, let us focus on reconnecting with old contacts and actively search for new ones. Greater Lafayette Commerce has many opportunities for you to make those strategic connections and gain exposure for your business in the coming year. I hope to see you there!


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  • D. Bang et al., “Sub-second dopamine and serotonin signaling in human striatum during perceptual decision-making,” Neuron, 108:1–12, 2020.
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  • Harvard Business Review (2009). Managing across distance in today’s economic climate: The value of face-to-face communication. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.
  • Pittenger, R. E., Hockett, C., & Danehy, J. (1960). The first five minutes. Ithaca, NY: Paul Martineau.
  • Poyatos, F. (2002). Nonverbal communication across disciplines. Vol. 2: Paralanguage, kinesics, silence, personal and environmental interaction. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
  • Rockwell, P., Buller, D. B., & Burgoon, J. K. (1997). The voice of deceit: Refining and expanding vocal cues to deception. Communication Research Reports, 14(4), 451– 459.
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About the Author
Mark Lowe is a serial entrepreneur, owning and operating multiple businesses.  He's earned an MBA in Experimental Social Psychology and an MS in Human Resources and Organizational Development from Indiana State University.  He is passionate about helping business owners navigate the many challenges they face daily.

How to Contact Mark

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