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Are We Losing Our Conversation Skills in the Digital Age?

Sociologists and psychiatrists are constantly warning that humans are losing the ability to have a real conversation in our digital age. And they may be right! The longer we go on talking over the Internet, the more it seems we forget how to really conduct a proper conversation. It’s all about getting through the information as quickly as possible then getting out.

If you find yourself lacking in the conversation department, why not try some of these tips to get yourself back in the game? They can not only help with your online back-and-forth, but also might spruce up your conversation in real life as well.

1. Bring Back Pleasantries

I know I find myself forgetting this most of the time in email. Nowadays it seems that nobody takes the time to exchange pleasantries, otherwise known as “small talk.” It’s almost like finding out how someone is doing is just an annoyance!

Instead of jumping into what you need immediately, try asking how your email recipient’s day has been going. How are their kids? Wasn’t their dad in the hospital recently? You’re not that freakin’ busy that you can’t take one minute to be polite to one another.

2. Actually Say Goodbye

Think of your last online conversation. How did it end? Most of mine either fizzle out or you just get up and walk away from your keyboard. How often do you actually say goodbye when chatting?

Try and give it a shot from now on. It often can be a problem considering you may not always know when the conversation has ended. However, when you know you’re getting up from the computer for a while or even signing off, try giving a friendly wave goodbye. Even if the conversation died a while ago!

Think of it like you’re staying at a mutual house for the evening. When you got up to go to bed, would you not say goodnight even though you maybe hadn’t spoken for a little while?

3. Take Turns

It may seem ridiculous, but try and actually take turns when talking online. Often we’ll resort to typing away as fast as we can. It’s like a race and whoever has the highest Words Per Minute wins!

This can lead to a lot of talking over each other in real life. It also can contribute to confusion in online conversations. Many of my friends will type in small sentences rather than one huge block of thoughts, and this causes some things to get misinterpreted. Rather than fire off an angry response to “I hate you,” I need to wait and see the rest, “being so far away from me.”

4. Feel Free to go OT

Instead of always feeling like you don’t have time for a little OT (Off Topic) time, let the conversation go where it wants! Again, you’re not that busy you can’t take a second to chat up a colleague or client. Remember, clients are just friends that pay you! Wait, that sounds weird…

Anyway, if you really like the episode of Face Off last night and it comes up briefly, don’t try and force the conversation back to work immediately. Ask what they thought of the winner, and if they were sad about who lost that episode. Shoving the talk back to the target at hand may be the norm, but when you think about it, it’s kind of rude!

Of course, if your chatting buddy wants to stay on Face Off for too long, feel free to set them straight.

5. Use Grammar & Punctuation

This may be a totally mental thing, but whenever I use proper grammar and punctuation I always feel the conversation is more “official.” Even if I’m chatting with my mom about a funny link she sent, actually putting a period at the end of a sentence makes it seem like I REALLY mean it.

Try this in your daily conversations. Treating the chat like a very formal and official thing may give it (and you) a higher profile. After all, some people will only ever “meet” you through your words on a screen.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here: http://www.ereleases.com/7cheaptactics.html

2 Responses

  1. I love this article and think the topic is extremely relevant. Digital conversations can enhance the relationship between many people, but only when it’s done right. Well done.

  2. […] a source of communication, and while it has accomplished that goal, look at what else it has done. Statistics indicate that the literacy rates among people are being effected by the digital […]

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