Why is society shunning the conversation?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Networking
It’s just a matter of time. It’s just a matter of time before we don’t need a voice anymore. After all, who uses theirs anymore anyway? We live in a world of online communication. And what seemed like such a technological breakthrough is on the verge of creating a human breakdown.
A friend of mine recently joined a new company. She told me about the company culture and how no one seems to talk to one another. People email, instant message and text all day long. Only if there’s a conflict is there an actual conversation on the phone or face-to-face. Sounds efficient? Absolutely. Is it effective? Not so much.
Here’s the problem. The only time there’s an actual conversation with voice, inflection, tone, body language – you know, more than 80% of communication – is during a conflict. And the conflicts are real conflicts. They are not discussions, they are arguments, because essentially, these people have no foundation for basic communication. They’re missing the basic elements of a relationship. Why would their “discussions” be pleasant? And if this is the culture with their employees, what is it like with their customers? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s toxic. That’s what.
But this behavior is easily fixed. It just takes some discipline. I told my friend to respond to every email, IM and text with a phone call or an in-person chat. Will it take some extra time? Sure. Will her co-workers think she’s nuts? Probably. Will they get tired of her calling when she could’ve just replied electronically? Perhaps. But here’s what she’s doing. She’s secretly laying the groundwork for a relationship. The kind of relationship that builds over time, and you still have because you invested so much time into it. The kind of relationships that we had at work 20 years ago. The kind that will last forever.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of email. I’m tired of texting. I don’t even succumb to IM. Twenty years ago, I used to IM at IBM and the only reason we’d do that was to ensure there was no audit trail. Those were the days!
Yes, I’m tired of all this instant communication where everyone expects you to respond in an instant without regard for your schedule, obligations, responsibilities or memory. I’m sorry, your email got buried in the 200 other ones I received yesterday. Yes, I forgot you texted me. I guess if it was that important, you would’ve picked up the phone and called me.
I’ve been to a dinner or two where the people are there physically, but not mentally. They are so busy texting work associates, other friends, children and spouses, it makes you wonder why they even bothered showing up. Please, please don’t let me get in the way of your life. And please, please don’t ask me to join you for dinner again!
I’ve seen many a job seeker cop out by emailing when they really should just pick up the phone and have a conversation. It kills me. People think email is so efficient because you can “talk at” a lot of people in a short timeframe. But isn’t it more effective to have an actual conversation where you can determine opportunities and gain closure?
You can keep texting. You can keep emailing. You can even try IMing. But if you really want to build, solid, successful relationships, you need to learn to pick up the phone, go out to lunch, meet up with people. And have real life conversations with real live people. Who knows, at the rate we’re going, maybe we won’t need a voice. But I bet you’ll wish we still had one!