I was thinking about our culture recently in this time of voicemails, emails, and social media, and it appears that everyone has a greater desire to communicate, but a lesser desire to actually have conversation.Believe it or not, communication and conversation are two completely different things. The actual definition of the word “communicate” is the activity of conveying information, while the definition of the word “conversation” is the spoken exchange of thoughts, opinions, and feelings; talk. The key difference between the two is the word “exchange,” which occurs during communication. Communication is a one way street, while conversation runs both ways.
We have gotten to a point where we love to communicate through emails, text messages, and social media, as long as we don’t have to actually hold a conversation with someone because that may actually require us to invest a little bit of our time in the present and not in the future at a time when we deem possible to respond. This infatuation with communication over conversation has reached such levels even on our cell phones — a device which was solely created with mobile conversation in mind— that we actually have an app called slydial that allows us to go straight to people’s voicemails…because God forbid they pick up the phone and respond to what we have to say. That would be way too inconvenient.
Now let me say that if there were a line for the guilty in this battle of communication vs. conversation, I would be at the front of the line. Shoot. I would be the spokesperson. But I also understand that almost every good thing can be a double-edged sword. If you are beautiful, you have to watch out that you don’t allow vanity to creep in. If you are in love, you have to be careful that it doesn’t blind you to the obvious. And in this world of the digital age where everything is supposed to be quicker and allow for more connection and engagement than ever before, be careful not to allow it to turn you into a great communicator that completely avoids conversation. Because in the end, the more things change, the more they stay the same. People work with people who they like and feel comfortable with, and posting on somebody’s facebook wall, shooting them a tweet, or blasting out an email doesn’t create connection, it only conveys information.
Conversation is the single greatest way to engage and connect with your audience and with your family and friends. Use today’s tools for what they are worth, but don’t allow them to rob you of your greatest asset in this world — and that is yourself. I look forward to your responses and I will try to respond as soon as I have some time to communicate back to you. — J.