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How many times recently have you received notification from your IT team that the system has ‘experienced outage’, a ‘small fire’, that the ‘server is down’ or that drives will be unavailable over the weekend due to ‘critical repair work’?

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Although temporary, these do cause a wee headache. What generally follows however can be fascinating, totally retro and even gripping: chatter, chit-chat, blethering, havering, constructive dialogue – you know… CONVERSATION.

Handbags and gladrags

It starts with a whisper, then laughter, followed by an explosion of sound; soon you’re all at it, talking away like there’s no tomorrow. Aside from the initial handbags and gladrags and was he offside / wasn’t he, constructive discussion and proactive sharing of information soon follows.

From this cocophany of noise inevitably eminates interesting dialogue and opportunity. Hell, even the phones get used. I swear I once saw someone use pen and paper.

BOOM! The Art of Conversation is suddenly back. But where had it been?

Ever since my early marcomms days, over-reliance on work-place email has played prominently on my mind. The irony being, I am undoubtedly as guilty as you at times – but, as recommended for any addiction, I have consistently tried to recognise my behaviour and challenge and change it.

Yet it now seems email could be heading the same way as semiphor. The reason? Why, social media of course.

Life Jim, but not as we know it

I thought this analysis was interesting, showing how people are using social and digital media in the wider world. It reminded me staff – well, most of us – do have a life outside of work and how we are living our lives and where we are living it is changing.

If this analysis is even broadly representative of how people access and share information and communicate with each other outside of work, wouldn’t it be more effective for organisations to harness that behaviour? Or, at least utilise existing skills and habits that staff offer, rather than prescribe solutions because that’s the way it’s always been (since the last technological revolution)?

Of course there are some big factors here: cost, culture, buy-in, vision, nerve, training and investment and, above all, trust.

I’ve learnt over the years, and read about lots recently through my social media networks, the value of trusting staff implicitly. Supporting them master this brave new world is now going to be central to organisational effectiveness, regardless of your sector.

So where, in this brave new world then, does conversation fit? I think that is the beauty of social media. No one is saying it is the be all and end all – especially me.

It is another approach that can help how we go about our daily lives in radical and, as yet, undiscovered ways.

Some applications and approaches will actually help improve face to face contact, and among others I’m looking forward to following @theICcrowd on Twitter and their blog to discover more.

Music to my ears

So the art of conversation most certainly isn’t dead. That’s music to my ears.

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Rather, how we engage is happening in different ways, often more effectively than it is presently solely by email (and phone), and is expanding across different medium and adapting.

Although digital and especially social media are attracting growing attention, for me at least a blether remains pivotal to the success of projects and relationships.

After all, what happens if Twitter or WordPress has some ‘downtime’ – what would YOU do then?

MarCommsKenny

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