The (Lost) Art of Conversation?

Liza Walter-Nelson Uncategorised

Over the last month to eight weeks, I have spent quite a bit of time talking to people. Granted, I am setting up on my own, and this does mean a lot of networking, a lot of calling potential clients and chasing leads, but I have been surprised at just how much time I have spent in conversation.

Never one to be shy anyway, I seem to always find a topic I can get stuck into with someone. What struck me though over the last few weeks, is that this is a very ‘normal’ way to do business – to trade ideas, to get to know others (before we engage in any work with them) and to generally try and make connections.

Amazing then, thought me, that so many workplaces (or maybe, so many managers) still see the office ‘chat’ as something to be frowned upon, to be discouraged. ‘Discussion’, is in many places, still directed towards the meeting room. And yet, we cannot all turn on creativity at a specific time or place – I know that if I have an idea and I don’t discuss it with someone, right then while I’m working on it, I am likely to forget what ‘eureka’ it was that struck me (ok, they may not all be eureka moments), or what made me think that I should get a second opinion.

Why then, don’t we encourage more talking in the workplace? More sharing of ideas and more debate about what is or could be working, what could be a new product, a new approach?

Encouraging Socialisation in the workplace – building relationships, sharing information, talking to each other (virtually or physically), building a community – should be an essential requirement for every organisation. It can actually have a positive impact on productivity (See; Dr. Alex Pentland, at MIT, or TN Bauer, M Handzic etc) and creativity, so why is the humble conversation disregarded by so many in the work environment? If I knew the answer, maybe that would be my million pound start up solution! Unfortunately I shall just make do (for now) with using my work to help encourage people to talk to each other, to learn to understand each other and to share, share, share, information and ideas. Thereby creating a ‘buzz’ in the work environment and helping to increase creativity and make offices a friendlier place.