I was sitting in the hairdresser the other day (I was going to be there for 2/3 hours – a long job). I felt quite smug that I had a smart phone. I could keep up to date with my clients, reply to emails, send twitter messages… And it suddenly struck me that somewhere between sending emails, tweets, status updates we have lost the art of proper conversations.
Amanda (@Ken Picton )my hairdresser was busy fiddling (I was hoping for a transformation) away on my hair and we had not caught up on the gossip and holiday news.
It illustrates the point that when you work from home, we increasingly cut ourselves off form real conversations.
There is lots of research on the web; how to find your blog voice, communicating online but one piece of research that resonated with me was The Power of Communication by Garcia.
This research took me along the next steps:
I decided to just pick up the phone, skype when possible, speak to friends and colleagues with whom I had only been in email or text contact. I had lovely chats and felt really happy catching up with friends.
Practise listening, we all want to converse with someone who is actually taking some notice. Now this might sound obvious but how many of us have tried to have a conversation whilst skimming our emails or been distracted by something else?
When having a conversation, use silence, don’t just fill in the space. You may need some time in order to respond appropriately. Sometimes, when negotiating a business deal, silence at the right time will help enhance the offer.
There is a particular skill to ending conversations. I can remember years ago attending a time management course (when they were in fashion). Here I picked up tips about ending a conversation; looking at your watch, getting up and heading for the door. A much better approach is to let your family and friends know how much time you have available.
I believe that social networking is a fantastic tool but there is no substitute for a good gossip and chinwag.
In business terms there is no substitute for good old fashioned one to one meetings, walking the job, regular updates, meetings… watch this space more about communication at work in later blogs.