WOW Word-Of-the-Week #409: Conversation

June 6, 2012 by  

Conversation – a spoken interchange of ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Do you prefer to pick up the phone when you need to communicate with someone? Do you prefer to text or email instead of calling? When was the last time you had a face-to-face conversation?

This week my attention was grabbed by an Associated Press article written by Martha Irvine titled, “IS TEXTING RUINING THE ACT OF TALKING? Many people seem to avoid face-to-face communication.”

“What difference should it make how we communicate, as long as we do? It seems that these days many people prefer texting over a phone call. And that is creating a communication divide of sorts – the talkers versus the texters. Some would argue that it’s no big deal.”

“But many experts say the most successful communicators will, of course, have the ability to do both and know the most appropriate times to use those skills. Traditional face-to-face conversations are vital in the workplace and personal relationships.”

Janet Sternberg, a professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University in New York says, “It is an art that’s becoming as valuable as good writing. I am noticing that more students don’t look me in the eye and have trouble with the basics of direct conversation.”

Do you have children or grandchildren that never return your phone calls? Do you think they are prepared or will be prepared to enter the “business world?” It seems the older you are the more likely you are to prefer a phone call. (And usually the person they will be working for will be older.) If conversations are vital to success in the workplace and personal relationships who is role modeling that behavior?

This week’s focus is on having conversations. Are you in a job where you are able to have conversations with your customers, guests, members, or clients? When was the last time you had a spoken interchange of ideas, thoughts, and feelings with a family member? Do you find it easy to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger?

Reader Responses

“Hi Susan, always great to get the WOW. In my personality testing service they rate applicants on Gregarious and Sociability. Those with high scores are the talkers and communicators. They make good first impressions on the customers and associates when they interact.” – Ken

“Conversation. The lively art. Toward the end of your piece you ask if I have a problem striking up a conversation with a stranger. I know there are times at sporting events where I will hear someone behind me that I have ever met talking about something in which I am interested. A lot of times I will simply chime in and give my two-cents worth. Quite often the other person will respond and we will have a nice conversation. One night I was at a basketball game by myself, when I heard two men behind me talking about some former Marquette basketball players. They enjoyed it when I chimed in with what I knew. When I introduced myself, one of the gentlemen was surprised that I was the same person who had written Al McGuire’s biography and asked me to sign his copy. You never know who you are going to meet anywhere. And we never know what doors it will open in our lives. As for phone conversations, I have noted in previous posts that we have a better idea of what the other person is thinking or feeling just by the tone of his or her voice. We can also tell by how short these people are with us that they want to end the conversation. Al McGuire pointed to the computer in his office one day and told me he had no idea how to operate. “You can’t get personality from a computer. My world is through the telephone.” There is something to be said about that. In our office I notice more and more communicating via emails, texts, tweets, etc., and less with the phone. Instead of calling me to let me know about a change of time in our meeting, my supervisor sent an email message – FROM HER PHONE! Go figure. I have always felt that conversations, either by phone or face to face, were the best way to communicate. But we all know how enamored of technology people are today, especially in the workplace. I would like to think that the young people coming up today will change, but many just can’t be bothered calling. Oh, well. The Baby Boomer generation, which is the largest demographic in the country, still prefers the phone. Maybe our generation will lead us back to basic conversation, which really brings out ideas and innovations, as well as feelings.” – “Warrior” Joe