Talk Like You Mean It …

Communication is one of the most overused word since ‘love’, ‘hilarity’ and ‘revolutionary advertising’!

For the last few months some of the PLF fellows have been working on a project on how people converse, and whilst it could be argued that thanks to technology we’re in an age of ‘conversational evolution’ – it seems, at least to us/them, that we’re becoming more isolated than previous generations.

09/06/2008 The most unscientific chart EVER!

You see whilst email/SMS/blogs/MSN/mobiles [etc] allows us all to talk to those who matter like never before, this ‘continual interaction’ isn’t actually creating deeper relationships … just more superficial ones.

While people all have lots and lots to say, it seems many find it difficult to actually maintain a real conversation.

What tends to happen is people go off on multiple tangents because rather than listen to what the other person is saying, they are just focused on what they want to express, even if it has no relevance to how the conversation has been progressing.

What this means is we get lots of little conversational journeys, but never reach any destination.

Politicians are great at this and thanks to a number of factors [including the way we use technology to communicate … as well as the way technology is created for us to communicate] more and more people are behaving in a similar fashion which could be contributing to the “it’s all about me” syndrome and the increase in violent crimes [because people don’t know how to handle differences of opinion anymore]



OK so we’re probably talking shite, but I bet most of you will relate to at least one of these scenarios …

1/ You get an incoming phonecall from someone you don’t really want to talk to so send it to voicemail

2/ You send an SMS telling people you’re 2 minutes away

3/ You block an MSN contacts because you feel they impose on your time too much

4/ You write a blog but never comment when someone writes a critical comment

5/ You wait till late to call a client so you maximise the chances of it going to voicemail so you can look like you’ve been diligent when the opposite is true

6/ You respond to MSN messages with ’single word answers’, when in person you would never behave in such a manner

Well, do you?

See, every single one carefully designed to ensure you stay in control of your situation rather than run the risk of encountering an alternaitve view/outcome.

The thing that is interesting is that whilst modern technology allows people to express themselves in a way that can’t be ignored [ie: even though the recipient may only ‘hear’ the words rather than ‘listen’ to them] it is also being used to protect/filter people from individuals they would rather not speak to.

smileys Photo: Alonelyboi

One of the things our research has uncovered is that many people use emote icons [especially on MSN] as a ‘conversational barrier’ rather than a visual representation of what they want to say.

It could be because the person is busy or they simply don’t want to talk to whoever is bothering them – however they use an emote icon because they know the recipient will interpret the character in a way they feel is appropriate to them / their situation, when in reality, the sender didn’t give it’s use/meaning a second thought, they just wanted to be left alone without [1] appearing rude [2] taking up too much time/effort.

It’s the equivalent of nodding to a colleague as you pass them in the corridor …

As we said, this issue could be more prevalent with those old fuckers who remember what it was like to make a phonecall using a telephone with a dial rather than this new generation who can’t work out what the letterbox at home is for – however we still think this is an important issue because humanity survives and thrives when it listens, understands and discusses – and the way the World is going, that’s something we could all do with a bit more of these days.

Years ago British Telecom ran a campaign around the concept of ‘it’s good to talk’.

While their definition of ‘talking’ often ended up being the sort of mundane conversation we now have on MSN, we reckon there’s still alot of potential in that idea though if they were to run it again, we reckon they’d be better off saying ‘it’s good to listen’ because if we’re not careful, we’re going to end up as the most connected bunch of loners in history



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