The art of conversation? 

  •  Is it changing for the better?

    When you pause to consider the differences in how we communicate today compared with 10 years ago and then try to imagine how we might do so in 10 years’ time … what do you predict?

    For instance, a decade ago, what phone were you using?

    Looking back at PC World’s recommended Top 10 Cell Phone Favourites 2007, their list included Nokia N95, Motorola Razr2 and the Blackberry 8800and No2 in the list, highlighted due to its “innovative design”, was the Apple iPhone.

    Back then, did we imagine that?

    • Our teenage children would spend more time communicating with their friends through their devices and online games rather than in person
    • That mobile phones would outnumber the number of people in the world
    • Smartphones would become an almost indispensable part of our lives
    • We would voluntarily share so much, to such a wide group, from what we are wearing, whom we are with, to where we are, what we are eating, our thoughts and opinions …

    Undoubtedly smartphones, the internet and social media have changed the way we communicate and interact with other.  Advances in technology allow us to better understand our customers, their patterns and even the emotional triggers to share our content and purchase our products and services.

    Sharing is now at epidemic proportions?

    Of course, sharing is not new, but it is so prevalent now. It is the norm to post holiday snaps and images depicting the latest events in our lives, hoping that our friends and followers will be interested. We feel pleased if we get likes and shares, but is that a real connection? Are we guilty of posting for the sake of saying something, too scared to not say anything for fear of missing out (FOMO – another modern concept?)

    Do we really connect?  

    I am, of course, making huge generalisations and the greater connectivity we gain from social media is unquestionably huge. Conversely, it could be argued the technology has become a convenient distraction that keeps us from engaging with our fellow man.

    However, I do believe that we are drawn to people who share common interests, values, outlooks and viewpoints. Therefore, are we wasting valuable opportunities to develop meaningful connections by simply broadcasting what we want to say to everyone? Business is personal. We buy from people we know like and trust.

    Is it now more important than ever to take a moment to think before we speak?

    To consider how we engage, so that we can create and give value to those with whom we are talking? Clearly, posting updates on our children’s lives for the benefit of loved ones on the other side of the world gives value. It provides a connection when being there in person on a regular basis is not an option. The internet and social media allows us to draw attention to good causes and events in a way we could not have dreamt of 10 years ago. Information travels the globe in seconds. Access to a vast wealth of learning and knowledge is unprecedented, all of which provide real value. The way we learn will undoubtedly continue to change through the advances in virtual reality. Through my computer, I am constantly growing in awareness, understanding and knowledge. There is a continuous stream of information that influences our actions and decisions. In addition, technology is allowing us all to develop and build trust through the content we create and in the way we communicate.

    What does this mean for conversation and trust?  

    This comes down to how we choose to use the technology. We still have to build valuable connections both professionally and personally, yet the way we do this is changing. The first conversation will not be the first time you will have communicated. Assessing the value we can offer to one another will be done online and building trust will remain key. As Steven Covey said “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” If you agree, as I do, we must take steps to proactively build trust, by being our authentic selves and by providing genuine value in our communications.

    Reassuringly, posts which contain an element of storytelling continue to attract the most engagement, as this age-old craft builds a connection. In business, every organisation has a story which influences its corporate values, philosophy and culture and thus its character and choice of words. This, in turn, will attract people and partners with similar values.

    We need to consider what our audience wants to hear, more than broadcast what we want to say. 

    Communications technology is continuing to evolve. There are numerous advances in virtual reality and the use of artificial intelligence, which lead to optimism and opportunity. We will need to get better at refining our message and understanding the individual needs of our customers in order to provide them with real value.

    In communication terms, what will be important in 10 years’ time?Face to face communication

    What we say, or what technology we are using to say it?  In my opinion, the first introduction will always be the most important conversation and will establish the basis, value and success of the relationship. I believe that mutual collaboration will become more important in business and that we will move from “Hello, my name is…, I am a ….” and “what do you do?” to “Hello I’m…” and “how can I use my skills and expertise to help you realise your ambition?”

    Food for thought.  One thing is for sure though.  The way we communicate with one another will continue to evolve and we must surely embrace the changes, both in our personal and professional lives.

     Photo credits to rawpixel on Unsplash