What Ever Happened to Face-to-Face Conversation?
November 19, 2012 Leave a comment
Has this ever happened to you? Have you gone through the grocery store checkout and felt, well, invisible, like the two men in the above Doonesbury comic strip? Have you noticed a decline in interpersonal communication skills in recent years?
Are we too busy texting, tweeting, updating Facebook, listening to our iPods or just turning in to ourselves and tuning out others that we don’t really see or interact with the people right in front of us?
Can we blame technology-enabled communication?
Don’t get me wrong! I wouldn’t want to go back to pre-email, pre-texting, pre-social media days. I love my iPhone and am rarely more than a room away from it (although I don’t use it that much for actually making phone calls). When I can get Skype to work well, it’s a wondrous thing. I met my son-in-law via Skype before I met him in person. Being able to converse back and forth, in real time, seeing his facial expressions and body language and hearing his tone of voice greatly enhanced my feeling that I got to know him before we met in person. Through Facebook, I keep in touch with far-flung friends and relatives, people I wouldn’t connect with much otherwise.
But are we losing the subtle nuances of face-to-face, real-time back-and-forth interpersonal skills?
More than one business owner has told me recently that their employees, especially the younger ones don’t want to pick up the phone and talk to a client–even if a direct conversation would be less complicated and much quicker.
Why is that? Why do so many people shun face-to-face (or phone) conversations?
I’ll be exploring that question, and possible solutions in upcoming posts, but I’d love to hear what you think!