Geoff Livingston just raised the question on Twitter that it's not really about the conversation. Look for his post on this next Monday. It will be good, promise. I question the term conversation as well. Much of the time we live in our own heads and very few can practice the art of listening. Why? Because everything is personal.
Take the test when you are reading or listening to someone else. How quiet is your internal environment? I'm not talking about your getting ready to reply or rebut as it may be. Just the act itself of making your self still and present to the other. How much of the other person are you taking in and appreciating? Not to be confused with appraising, mind you. It may be a subtle difference, and it can speak volumes without saying a word.
When you offer others participation in a project, who are you trying to make look good? Check in with yourself for a moment.
This conversation, this space where people exchange information. Is it really a place where they come together? My friend Peter offered a beautiful image when we last talked about the term conversation being overused a few months back. He said:
[...] when the utility of conversation is spent - or we have become impatient with it (the notion that conversation is over used ?) it will fall out of fashion.
But conversation will continue. We will talk together until I no longer hear my own voice in your words. Perhaps that what you mean by coming together.
[...] perhaps the way we interact with blogs helps us to understand what happens in a conversation. It just slows everything down for long enough to watch yourself.
As I take in your responses to the thoughts and analysis offered here - a gift for which I am very grateful - I verify how much of what Peter taught me with that image I absorbed. And carry that thought when I visit with other writers. In my own personal way.
There are a couple of conversations worthy of your time this week. Both are special because of the degree of care the authors have put into listening from the post and continuing that listening in the comments. Is this how you do social media? Is this how one does social media?
Is customer service losing its touch? Asks Ted Mininni at MarketingProfs Daily Fix. Mike Ashworth from the UK comments that "the problems stem from the many functions of a company e.g. sales, marketing, finance, customer service... often operating completely independently of each other, sometimes with conflicting goals too." Mike is onto something.
My take is that the fist community a company has is made of its employees. The first customer each employee has is another employee, a colleague. Take it from there and you will do what is right.
To Ted's question "Why do you think companies invest so much in marketing and advertising and then fall down when the customer does come to them to purchase products or services?" I say - it's not personal enough. What's your response?
Is inconsistency the new mass media? Asks Mitch Joel at Six Pixels of Separation. Can inconsistency ever, really, become the new consistency? Mitch adds that creating consistently great content, establishing routines, and creating a reputation may be products of consistency. Your readers are your customers. They will take it personally. And so they should. Their lens is the one they use to take in your information.
My departure on his topic is that inconsistency is the new mass treatment. Ideas are generally the superlatives today - greater, bigger, better, more grandiose; sometimes even collectively superb. Then there is the execution.
How do you translate the idea into form? It takes many skills - the ability to communicate and articulate it complete with vision to sell it. Yet all this needs to leave enough room for the people who are implementing that idea to infuse it with their own vision and personality. What's your take on inconsistency?
Everything is personal. Nobody can get behind your eyeballs and see the world as you are. I'm interested in learning what you see.