The Lost Art of Conversation?

In last week’s post I asked for help in finding published research on e-mail’s impact on workplace relationships.

Still thinking about it, I recall a time several years ago when web viruses started making their rounds and IT departments were temporarily shutting down company e-mail to deal with the problem.  One of my colleagues called to alert me that she was unable to send an e-mail she’d promised.

I’ll never forget her comment about the situation, despite its temporary inconvenience: “You know what’s really amazing?  People in my office are actually talking to one another!”

Where did all the real conversations go?

I think I found an answer in a recent Fast Company interview with Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert:

“Even in the office, there’s a growing preference to communicate solely by email so you can ignore all human contact …I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met recently who state, outright, that they don’t like people.  They love technology … And now technology actually gives them the option of avoiding all human contact.”

Scary, isn’t it?

My own preference is for face-to-face communication (assuming geography/proximity isn’t an issue), followed by voice-to-voice, and then e-mail (for convenience and/or distance).  And I’ll admit there are a few people I only want to communicate with through e-mail rather than in-person.

Still it frightens me to think that, sooner than later, conversation might truly be a “lost” art.

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