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To Text or To Talk? That is the Question.

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I was at the World Business Forum in NYC and listened to many fine speakers, including Sherry Turkle, the Founding Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.  Her latest book, Alone Together, explores the impact of relentless communication that is facilitated primarily by technology.  She listed several points in her argument that all of us, in the workplace or at home, must balance our communications to include lots more conversation.  One of the first points she made was this:  “We text before we talk.”  And, it got me thinking . . . when is it appropriate to text in the workplace and when it is better to talk?

Here’s my simple take on the question:  talk when the stakes are high.  Stakes are usually high when there is a conflict, if there has been a misunderstanding, when there needs to be a shared and collective understanding about goals, mission or vision . . . to name just a few.  It’s also important to talk if you think there’s a possibility that a text will cause a conflict, misunderstanding or might confuse priorities.  I don’t really need to define high stakes here.  You know when they exist.  When your gut feels all butterflied or if you’re afraid to talk, that’s probably EXACTLY what you need to do.  Sometimes, the stakes are high and yet there are no butterflies.  Like when you’re trying to build a relationship or win someone’s trust.  Those are great reasons to talk.  In. Person.

I’m challenging myself to text (or email) less and talk more.  I think it will result in just what I’m going for when I reach out to someone: a genuine connection that yields positive outcomes and feels great.  And, I’m going to talk to my clients about it and see what their common practices and perspectives are.  I’ll share what they have to say.  In the meantime, happy chatting!

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Posted In: Communication