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@Ricardo - the dining room table conversation, I like that! Except for it's harder to figure that out because online you have context and the possibility for things to be taken out of it. It takes training and skill to have that kind of situational awareness.

@Stuart - I'm thinking that it's more a cultural thing for organizations. That's why "fit" is probably one of the most important things to check when joining a company.

@Robert - I'm jealous, you found a way to embed the video clip. I would have loved to have seen you develop the post a little more - get into the emotional communication that comes after surprise.

@Teresa - we're social creatures, and we let the environment we spend time in shape us a little, or at least influence our behavior - we want to fit in. That's why the social media fishbowl has a certain kind of person in it, the corporate world another. When we lead a group, a project, we have the opportunity to help set that tone.

@BigLittleWolf - situational works. The environment gives us clues as to one behaves in such a place, we watch others. I think it's very possible to make clarity as to who we represent with our actions and words. However, it's interesting to observe that the lines are not hard just for individuals - they are difficult to navigate for organizations as well. You're spot on about face-to-face relationships. We crave them as well. Hence the tweet-ups with people met online and the explosion of conferences on social media. We attend so we can meet those we "friend" online to continue the conversation. We'll save the discussion on branding ourselves for another post.

You ask thoughtful questions that we'll be figuring out with time, particularly as all the "old school rules" of communication grow muddled, or just don't apply.

But human nature and the reasons for communication DO still apply. I believe the answers to some of your questions will vary (like any other communication) with industry, the individual's role or position of advocacy in an organization, geographic region, appropriateness and relevance of what is said - and who you're talking to.

Just like "real life," we modify language, tone and subject matter according to purpose and audience, in personal and professional situations. We simply need to remember - as you say - that anything shot out into cyberspace is not only there for ever, but repeatable - with no control over the context.

This is one reason that certain of us (including myself) choose some amount of separation of church & state, ie separate "personal" blogging/twittering personas - so we may exercise greater freedom in what we say and the audience with whom we interact.

It's not easy to maintain that separation; the "self" is truly a merging of personal and professional, but it's possible.

My concern, as we all take to PDAs and keyboards with increasing ease - how much time that we're talking and typing could be better spent establishing face-to-face relationships? With customers, among teens, in the social arena, with neighbors. Or spent reading,or building something, or TRULY listening.

Ultimately, are we all just branding ourselves in place of Warhol's 15 minutes of fame?

For me (as you've seen) the personal and professional can't really separate out. That might be because of the stage I'm in, in my life (job searching, career exploration), but I believe it's just part of who I am.

Since I'm not representing any particular company yet, I hope to land a gig in which I'm not asked to change my tack much at all, just add company content and activities to the roster of my own social interactions. Of course, I expect to be held accountable for the things I say, but I hope I connect with an organization that likes what it sees already and just asks me to keep at it.

Hope springs eternal. :)

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