You hear a lot of complaining about how people’s writing skills have been ruined by texting or tweeting. But what about the art ofSocial Media and Art of Conversation conversation? What is the effect of social media on our ability to actually converse and connect with one another verbally?

Essentially the art of conversation is simply and easily talking with anyone about anything while projecting confidence and friendliness. Someone who is adept at the art of conversation also uses active listening skills so the conversation follows an arc as subjects are introduced and talked about.

The three stages to the Art of Conversation are:

1. Small talk-weather, location, event..basically anything that joins two or more people into the actual conversation

2. Subject matter-this is the business part of the conversation. There is more depth here as people explore a topic or the purpose of the conversation

3. Closure-the topic is wrapped up and people end the conversation in a smooth way that could include thanking one another for the conversation and even a goodbye

Since the #kaizenblog chat happens on Twitter, social media plays an important role for all of us who participate. In past conversations, participants have talked about developing relationships which would imply that conversations are taking place. But…what kind of conversations? Have we interrupted the process with limited space or speed or what?  You can read the transcript here Transcript for #kaizenblog – HasSocMedKilledArtofConvo

Ironically, during the chat, we noticed that Twitter and other applications (e.g. HootSuite, Tweetchat) were acting strangely so there were aborted tweets that somehow got published or simply had to be re-typed until they were successfully sent.

As our usual wont, we opened with a basic question so we could use a common definition. How would you describe the art of conversation? There are concerns that we’re less civil, more informal or even more likely to skip the first stage. Any of these are possible due to the thought that they are not important. And, possibly the biggest challenge to a conversation is feeling like there is enough time to fully engage in the topic together.

  • Laura Crum “A1: the art of conversation used to be fluid, pretty and intricate”
  • Parissa Behnia “A1: The art is understanding that there are many textures. sometimes it’s in listening & sometimes in 2 way exchange”
  • Richard Winter “A1: Being able to convey a message or position people see in their minds through the words you use”
  • Bruno Coehlo “A1 The art of Conversation is about listening, understanding and sharing. Hint: the order matters”
  • Michael Benidt “A1: Conversation has to include respect – someone has to be as interested in you, as you are in them”

Given the concerns about how conversation has become truncated, where does social media fit in? What is the intersection between social media and conversation?

  • Parissa Behnia “A2: SM is enhancement so I don’t see it as intersection so much as wonderful support to the right behaviors we should be doing”
  • Torrey McGraw “A2: Success lies in adding value. Thus more will be willing to drive down your street”
  • ASQ Baton Rouge 1521 “Q2: SM intersects w/ conversation when relationships are built. Genuine thought and opinion vs. announcements”
  • Ken Rosen “I think Ppl DO value artful comments & elevate those who are capable. But aesthetic changing. W/ SM as a force of change no doubt”
  • Suzanna Stinnett “A2 The intersection of SM and conversation is your brain. You choose who you follow and how you interact”
  • Amber Cleveland “A2. The intersection is us…people. Social media, traditional media, phone calls, emails, tweets…all intersect at people”

The conversation has some interested side threads about spelling, grammar and how people use social media in a way that would be very obnoxious if we were in-person. One thread even touched on how words are used and whether or not poetry can exist on sites like Twitter. Perhaps, at times, the conversation got a little myopic and the comments were centered more on Twitter use.

This seemed to open the conversation for the next question. How would you describe the effects of social media on conversation?

  • Amy Canada “…#SocialMedia is only a conversation for those who use it to converse (2 ways). Broadcasting is not conversation”
  • ASQ Baton Rouge 1251 “Many companies fail to engage. They think since the tools are free, strategic thought is not required.”
  • Bruno Coehlo “One of the major effects that  SM made on conversation is reducing our attention span and time perception”

The responses seemed all over the place during this question. Some people felt that social media has augmented conversations offline. It seems likely that the truth is not one thing or another as social media has so many faces. It would be interesting to see how the effects play over time.

What is the future of the art of conversation given that social media will exist in one form or another?

  • Parissa Behnia “insistence on keeping the trad’l ways of engaging while embracing new technology. symbiotic”
  • Bruno Coeholo “Q4 Conversations will continue to evolve across different channels because of our need to to share and learn”
  • Christine Dowers “Q4: I see more and more people realizing the importance of Twitter. Many people don’t know how to use it or why it is here.”

While most people were quite positive about social media, there were a number of side threads and comments that pointed out the drawbacks or limitations. If we are embracing a tool for our businesses, are we thinking critically about how it affects our organizations and ourselves? Social media can be a shiny toy. It is also a way for us to meet more people who are looking for what we provide. Consider this, nearly every week on #kaizenblog, we have participants from Europe, Canada and the United States. Occasionally we have participants from other parts of the world as well. This means that we have the opportunity to broaden how we understand our expertise and how others in the world engage in similar work. Maybe the art of conversation isn’t lost but has morphed into its next manifestation.

What do you believe about the art of conversation in social media? Is it really dead or something else?