Can We Talk? Dialogue in a Digital World

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The Need For Dialogue in a Digital World

“What’s the digital world coming to? People don’t even talk to one another anymore!”

Recently I have been observing how people use the tools of the digital world — particularly email and social media — to vent on issues that could be solved directly with much less energy and drama. Our “digital world” lives might be made far easier by actually engaging in a phone or face-to-face dialogue with someone who can help.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of going back and forth with people via text and email — until I realize that when you speak live with someone, you have a much better likelihood of them understanding where you’re coming from and not missing — or misinterpreting — something you’ve written.

There’s a lot to be said about texting and apps that allow for ‘real-time’ communication, but often people use them without a filter — hiding behind the written word or simply reacting, because they have an outlet (and, dare I say it, an audience.)

So while there’s certainly a place for digital communication in this digital world — getting facts and information out quickly — there’s even more need for two-way dialogue in our organizations and in the digital world.

Having a conversation — the voice-to-voice kind is particularly important when:

    • Sharing news that you’re not 100% sure will be well-received
    • Communicating about a subject that your audience is emotionally invested in
    • Discussing change (of any magnitude) – regardless of whether or not it will impact your audience
    • Talking about anything of a confidential or personal nature
    • You’re building a relationship with someone you don’t know very well
    • You want to solicit feedback — or build buy-in — on a particular topic
    • Your audience needs a forum in which to be heard (as painful as it can be for the listener, it’s cathartic to vent)
    • You want to ensure that you’ve really gotten your message through, because people are on information overload and they simply can’t process all the digital content that’s out there
    • You don’t want your words to be forwarded on – or out in cyberspace forever (oh yes, they will be)

It’s natural to be wary about having live dialogue, particularly when the subject is sensitive or of an emotional nature. But with preparation, practice and ground rules for group discussions, you’ll find that the quality of your conversations and relationships with your audience will improve and the amount of time you spend on communication activities will actually decrease. Dialogue also results in a level of transparency that’s appreciated (and expected) by many.

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Written by Mercer PeoplePro Engagement and Communications specialist, Lisa Jarmoszka

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