Why Your Virtual Relationships Degrade Over Time

Last Updated July 29th, 2021


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In today’s world, there’s no avoiding it. Digital communication is vital to our business relationships. We participate in remote meetings, attend virtual conferences, host online training sessions, send and receive messages by email, text, Slack, and LinkedIn, and much more. And while virtual communication is an effective means to an end, it’s still devoid of something essential to all healthy relationships — genuine humanity.

Challenges such as misunderstandings, miscommunication, and even disengagement all materialize when we’re communicating from behind our screens. So why is that?

Quite simply, digital, virtual, and online environments are impoverished. When we communicate virtually, our voices are compressed and our faces flattened into two dimensions. These differences from in-person communication mean that our tone, intent, and meaning are much harder to discern — especially in terms of our emotional investment.

Understanding how to fill the gap between in-person and virtual communication to avoid degrading our virtual relationships requires that we learn specific techniques to connect with others in a virtual world. In doing so, we can restore some level of humanity and emotion that’s often stripped from our daily digital communication.

Our guest today is Dr. Nick Morgan, a communications expert and the author of several books, including Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World. With a dive into psychology, Nick shares that the brain fills sensory gaps with assumptions. This means that when we don’t get the same feedback we receive through in-person communication, we automatically make things up. As a survival tactic, our brains assume the worst. This unintentional, negative thought process is what leads to the degradation of every virtual relationship over time.

In addition to authoring four books about communication, Nick is also a communications coach, theorist, and the President at Public Words. He explains that virtual communication inherently lacks elements built into in-person communication, such as feedback, empathy, and emotion.  Nick also illustrates that much of human decision-making is based on emotion. And because emotion is muted on screens, through speakers, and in our faceless, typed-out text, this can lead to poor decision-making concerning our relationships.

Given that so much of our customer experience is virtual these days, we need to understand nuanced strategies for strengthening human communication — leading to better, more human relationships.

This episode is part of a special series we’re doing this summer here on The Customer Experience Podcast. Nick’s book is one of several Steve Pacinelli and I referenced and quoted while writing our Wall Street Journal bestselling second book, Human-Centered Communication: A Business Case Against Digital Pollution (Fast Company Press, October 2021).

Human-Centered Communication, A Business Case Against Digital Pollution, Fast Company Press, BombBomb, Ethan Beute, Stephen Pacinelli, Wall Street Journal bestseller, business book, sales book, marketing book

In our conversation, Nick shares with us:

What the underlying psychology says about virtual communication
How to communicate emotional clarity in video
What it means that every mistake is permanent virtually
Why we should augment, rather than dampen, our emotions on screen
How to maintain a virtual relationship



Why Your Virtual Relationships Degrade Over Times

Hear Episode 150 and any/every other conversation of The Customer Experience Podcast in your preferred podcast player …

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We also embed the full conversation in a playable and searchable format right here in these blog posts. The recording with Dr. Nick Morgan is right here …





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Video Highlights: Why Your Virtual Relationships Degrade Over Time

Check out the top five video highlights from the discussion with Dr. Nick Morgan, President at Public Words…


1. Customer Experience is Every Moment



2. The Importance of Intent



3. The Hierarchy and Impoverishment of Digital Communication



4. Filling in the Gaps in Sensory Feedback



5. Emotional Reads and Bad Decision-Making



Links Related to This Conversation:



More in Our Human-Centered Communication Series:

Human-Centered Communication, A Business Case Against Digital Pollution, Fast Company Press, BombBomb, Ethan Beute, Stephen Pacinelli, Wall Street Journal bestseller, business book, sales book, marketing book, books, copies, bulk orders

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Ethan Beute | About The Author

Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, co-author of Rehumanize Your Business, and host of The Customer Experience Podcast, Ethan collects and tells stories of clearer communication, human connection, and higher conversion with simple, personal videos. BA: University of Michigan. MBA: University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Fresh air & clean water.

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