banking, benifits of face to face human interaction, body language and banking

Today a journalist ask me if I still did my banking face to face. Here is my answer.

Since I opened my first bank account at 11, I have preferred to go into the bank and make my deposits and withdrawals. At 50 I still don’t use the bank machines to withdrawal cash. I don’t want to be known by my back account number and I don’t want to interact with a machine.
For over 20 years I knew all the cashiers’ by name and they new mine. When I came in we would visit for a minute would ask me how my last trip was, because they knew I fly out of town every week to speak and I would ask about their day and their family. Now that my bank has been bought a few times I know only know one teller. It is still worth to go in because she smiles and says my name and I smile back and we laugh about the fact that the two of us are always in a good mood. It makes my day.
I am a body language expert. Human interaction feeds us. It is sustenance. The smile, the eye contact of recognition, the light touch of hands across the counter, insures us we are seen, are known, that we exists. Each face to face interaction makes our lives rich. It also feeds the brain. If you have been reading my blogs or getting my newsletter you know that I love neuroscience and often talk about the brain body connection. Here is link to a website that discusses the research of Dr. Thomas Lewis who does research on face to face interaction and the brain.
"Part of the issue they've discovered in research is just how crucial the immediate response is. In still-face effect experiments with infants, for example, they learned that babies become immediately distressed when their mother maintains a "still face" that does not show any response/feedback with what the baby is doing. This makes sense, but what's really interesting is when they experimented with video. In some of these variations on the still-face effect, mothers and babies were on closed-circuit monitors where they could each see each other in real-time, through a television monitor. The babies were much happier when their mother's face was responsive to their own... less distressed than when the mother was right in front of the baby but maintaining a still face!
So, it was the responsiveness that mattered as well as the visual information. But just how quick does the feedback/response need to be? When they took the same experiment but introduced a short delay (I can't recall the amount -- but it was less than a few seconds), the babies became distressed again. Even a small degree of latency killed the feedback/interaction/responsiveness the baby's brains were expecting and needing.
Of course, we're adults, and not babies, but again--Dr. Lewis pointed out that we still have the same basic neurochemistry, and that no matter how much we practice communicating through text, the brain still finds it stressful. He indicated that the only population whose lives have improved through the use of text over face-to-face are those with a serious problem of shyness. In the brains of the shy, he said, a previously unknown face triggers a fear or anxiety response in their amygdala which doesn't happen in text.
He said that video chat is better than any other form of non face-to-face, because you get facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, AND real-time responsiveness. But--he said there's still a very unsettling feature for the brain because there's really no way for BOTH speakers to make eye contact! If you look at the camera, then the other person sees you looking at them, but then your experience suffers. So you can either watch the person you're chatting with which helps your experience but causes theirs to suffer (since you won't be looking into the camera, so to THEM you'll be looking down), OR you can look in the camera and improve their experience. But there's no way to have the camera right in your face, in a place where you can still look into the other person's eyes. Bottom line: You can see the camera or the person's eyes... but not both.
And even with the benefits of adding video to your chat, there's still a lot the scientists don't know about other factors surrounding human communication that can't be captured electronically. Smell, for example, might be far more powerful than we realize--even when below our conscious awareness.