Sunday, October 2, 2011

5 Points In Favor Of Live Conversation

I read an article a few months ago about the importance of what is quickly becoming the lost art of live conversation in this age of electronic communication. How often have you seen a scene on a television show where the only two people in a room are texting each other when they could just as easily be talking? This usually occurs in a comedy, pointing up the absurdity of the situation.

Email and other forms of electronic communication such as texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc., tends to be society's primary mode of communication these days, both personally and professionally.

And, of course, we can add blogging to that list. :)

We tend to deal with difficult or emotional conversations electronically because it's easier—it's non-confrontational. Unfortunately, we often regret it later. It's easy to have conflict arise and get blown out of proportion because those involved failed to engage in live conversation—perhaps a fear of a live connection and poor judgment in using written communication. All the emoticons and acronyms in the world can't adequately convey the subtle nuances in a tone of voice, with facial expressions, body language, or the smallest gesture that can be seen or heard with live conversation.

It often seems easier to be honest and direct in writing because we don't have that live, in-the-moment reaction of the other person. Electronic communication takes less courage than live conversation with a real human being. Avoiding that live conversation allows us to feel safer and lets us say things electronically that we might not otherwise verbalize.

And therein is the trap. Sometimes things are said electronically that would not have otherwise been said because the electronic communication has a feeling of distance to it, something more impersonal, rather than being up close and in person.

The article listed five suggestions for engaging in live conversations more often and ultimately resolving conflicts more successfully.

1) Be clear about your intention.
Before sending your electronic message or leaving a voice mail, ask yourself why you are handling the situation electronically rather than live. If the matter is in any way emotionally charged or about a conflict, check to make sure you aren't sending an electronic message simply to avoid that personal involvement. And make sure you answer your question honestly.

2) Don't send everything you write.
Writing everything out in an unfiltered manner can be liberating especially when dealing with an emotional conflict, however that does not mean that it's a good idea to send it. Save it then read it again later before taking any action with it.

3) Request a call or a meeting.
Before becoming involved in a long drawn out exchange of electronic messages, request a live conversation—face-to-face if possible, or if distance doesn't allow that then on the phone.

4) Speak without judgment or blame.
When you engage in the live conversation over a conflict, focus on reality rather than being right. As soon as we move into the realm of blame, we greatly reduce the possibility of resolution.

5) Get support from others.
When dealing with emotionally charged issues, sometimes it's a good idea to seek out support and advice from others we trust and respect, people who will be honest rather than simply saying what we want to hear.

Electronic communication is going to become more and more commonplace in today's society, but resolving our conflicts can often be done quicker and easier with live conversation.


Harlie Reader said...

I actually prefer talking to someone. I like all the email, chatting, FB, and the like but there is still nothing like hearing someone's voice.

Harlie Reader said...

I love your blog...just saying.

Samantha Gentry said...

Hi, Harlie. Yep...there's a lot to be said for actually talking to someone, hearing the sound of their voice, seeing them while in conversation. Retaining that personal touch.

Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I appreciate them.

Bianca Swan said...

Conversation is becoming a lost art. It is so much easier to pick up the phone and talk with someone live, but a lot of the time, at work, I use email for a paper trail. Good post!

Lynne Marshall said...

All great points, Samantha. e-mails can be taken completely wrong, and I can't tell you how many times I've written exactly what i wanted to say, only to go back and delete half of it before i send.
What worries me is that I seem to have trouble with regular face-to-face conversatons these days - forgetting words, or finding it hard to express myself. My fingers seem to be taking over for my mouth! Yikes.

Samantha Gentry said...

Bianca: Having a paper trail (or electronic trail) for a business matter is certainly a viable and often necessary thing.

Thanks for commenting.

Samantha Gentry said...

Hi, Lynne. I know exactly what you mean. In-face-to-face conversation, we sometimes feel as if we don't seem to have the availability of pausing to pull up the proper words the way we do in an email. A live conversation means the other person is waiting for us to finish with what we were saying whereas an email allows us that pause to think without feeling that we're being pressusred to continue.

Thanks for stopping by.

Paul McDermott said...

I have the honour and privilege to come from Irish stock and background. The traditional role of the Seanch'ai ["Storyteller"] is still very much alive and highly respected (especially in smaller rural communities) from the days when he (sorry, ladies, no PC exceptions! LOL) was the ONLY one to have received any formal education - by word of mouth from his predecessor in the role - and was therefore the ONLY person who "knew" the complete history of the community dating back to the beginning of Time itself: the "Oral Tradition" is still active and vibrant, though amended in part to reflect 21st Century living ...

Not very long ago (by my family's reckoning!) a young, impatient whippersnapper named Sir Francis Bacon had this to say:

"Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not."

Perhaps as true today as it was when he made his complaint to Bill Shakespeare over a pint before the premiere performance of "Romeo & Juliet"???

I've been asked to 'perform' the role of Seanch'ai at a cultural event in Liverpool next month. Looking forward to the challenge!

Samantha Gentry said...

Paul: As with your Irish culture, several cultures have the traditional storyteller/historian and in the past that person has had the responsibility for preserving and caring for the history and traditions of a important position dependent on verbal communication.

Congratulations on your selection as Seanch'ai. Good luck with your performance. Thank you for your comments.