Make Time for Conversations

Can we talk?

A few short years ago this would have been a ridiculous question. But today in a world that is dominated by “drive by” communications, it has become much more challenging to have a simple conversation.

When was the last time you sat around the dinner table as a family or with friends and just talked? Talked about nothing in particular, just had a conversation? Are you finding it more difficult to get your telephone calls returned, or to get responses to your emails these days? Or, to get someone to take 5 minutes out of their busy day to speak with you?

In this modern era of voice mail, email, text, chat, IM, tweets, etc. we have relegated conversations to sound bytes, 140 characters, or the 30-second elevator pitch.

Rather than conversations that enable us to help build long-term enduring relationships, our communications have become more sterile, computer-generated and impersonal. The focus in our society has shifted to pushing information to others versus true interpersonal communications and getting to know the other person on some level.

We constantly hear the term six degrees of separation, and assume we are somehow closer and that technology has brought us all together. However, most people I talk with feel more disconnected and farther apart than ever when it comes to communication with friends, family and the outside world. Clearly, the pandemic has not helped.

In reality, we are bombarded every day by thousands of messages from various sources, and as a result take little time to just talk with each other.

For example, when voice mail and email were first introduced, they were intended to enable us to never miss a call and to enhance our ability to communicate with a broader audience. Overtime, however, both services have evolved to selective communications vehicles. We now determine who we choose to communicate with, and which telephone calls and emails get returned.

While this may be a great solution for avoiding spam, do other important conversations get lost or neglected as a consequence?

Personally, I am not a fan of the 30-second elevator pitch, or drive by communications. I look forward to the personal touch and to people interaction in my communications with others. If you, too, prefer conversations and building relationships not just connections, then here are some suggestions:

  1. Spend less time on the 30-second elevator pitch and more time one-on-one getting to know the other person. This should be your first priority at all networking events.
  2. Routinely schedule breakfast meetings, lunches and after-hours events with family members, friends, business associates, etc. No agenda required, just to talk.
  3. Make time for family dinners and those great conversations about nothing in particular.
  4. Get to know at least one new person every week, and take time to really listen to their story.
  5. Find a way to communicate more in-person or via Zoom versus by telephone, email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  6. Be sure to turn off the cell phone, laptop, PDA, pager, etc. and just enjoy a lively conversation!

If you miss those leisurely conversations around the dinner table, then bring them back. Make time for conversations and the important people in your life.

Enjoy the journey!


COPYRIGHT © 2009-21 John Carroll