The digital transformation has and continues to change the way in which we communicate with each other.
We use a wide range of channels to have our conversations, each with its pros and cons. I’m sure we’ve all interpreted a text message in a negative way when that certainly wasn’t the sender’s intention. Can we replace the phone call, where we are able to interpret inflection and intonation, with a quick IM?
It can be easy to lose track of what we’ve said to who, when and on what platform. Notifications are easily dismissed making it surprisingly simple to forget to reply to that IM from Aunt Doris (that’s still all in capitals, even after many hours of Facebook Messenger tutorials). Are we forcing other generations to communicate in ways they may not even understand, just so they can have some kind of interaction with us? Are we reaching people on the channels that they feel most comfortable conversing in?
This isn’t true for just our personal lives – there are masses of different communication channels for businesses too. With the growth of these channels it is becoming increasingly important to make sure that we use the best channel for each conversation we have, both professionally and personally.
We have mistaken connecting with conversing.
Many of us are now guilty of substituting true relationships, business and personal, for superficial connections and followers and replacing short typed comments for detailed conversations.3 Have we taken to hiding behind emails or instant messages when a phone call or face to face conversation would be best? A business executive texts during board meetings, protesting that he “no longer has colleagues at work – but he doesn’t stop by to talk and he doesn’t call. He says that he doesn’t want to interrupt them.” 1
We have started to sacrifice conversation for simple connection. In homes across the world families sit together, texting and reading e-mails.1 As communication becomes more widely distributed, it’s a good idea to remind ourselves of the fundamentals that make a good, old-fashioned conversation work.
The fight for the return of conversation has become a societal issue. Groups of young people are staging conversation sessions and social engagement projects. Our ability or lack of, to engage in conversations in this digital age has even become inspiration for artists and poets. Sheila Kohler of Princeton University sensibly states, “Conversation stimulates, excites and enables us to rise above ourselves. When we share ideas, when we press an argument, our minds are strengthened and stimulated.” 2
So, is it best to just pick up the phone and call a friend? or go to lunch with a colleague rather than dropping an e-mail? Download the CloudCall guide to The Art of Conversation here and look out for more insights and advice in the coming months.
1 The New York Times, The Flight From Conversation https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
2 Psychology Today, Have We Lost the Art of Conversation? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dreaming-freud/201410/have-we-lost-the-art-conversation
3 Forbes, The Lost Art Of Conversation And Connection https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/11/25/the-lost-art-of-conversation-and-connection/#4ae9852a31bb