Do you ever feel like the art of conversation is fading fast thanks to social media?
I've been thinking a lot lately about how much harder it is for me to delve into a good conversation, especially with someone I've just met. I feel like I used to be much better at it during my days as an events director, when I had lots of opportunities to engage in conversation at our events. My team and I worked hard to make sure chamber of commerce members got their time and money's worth out of our events. We placed icebreaker questions on tent cards on every table, and committee members stood at the ready, greeting everyone and giving special attention to making wallflowers feel at home. I learned a lot in those days about the art of conversation, and networking in ways that didn't feel slimy or salesy.
Fast forward to becoming a blogger social media professional. While I embraced my digital native nature five years ago, nowadays I feel like I'm un-learning and re-learning what it's like to be a normal, offline human being. I think everyone has a digital breaking point, and I reached mine recently. I spend way too much time in front of a screen, and the list of things it's doing to my body, mind and soul far outweigh the benefits. I sit too long. My neck, shoulders and fingers get sore from holding and looking at my phone, or typing on my laptop on the couch (which I am doing right now. :/)
I lay in bed staring at my phone even though I'm dead tired and should be trying to sleep. I have a (imaginary?) twitch from wondering if I've missed anything since the last time I was online - which probably wasn't too long ago. I write about how bloggers are sometimes awkward in real-life despite a shiny online personality - then I wonder if I'm one of them too. Most of all, I lean on my phone to get me out of those uncomfortable social situations that should be challenging me to have conversations with people. Those precious skills I built in my chamber of commerce days have sat dormant for way too long. I let myself get away with being a real-life social asshole just because I let myself get comfortable being social only online. I know many of you do too, and we gotta stop!
Image via Pinterest
Yesterday I made the conscious effort to chat with everyone I came into contact with. At the grocery store. At the coffee shop. My friend Hilary hosted a workshop that was part yoga, part discussion group. Hilary, a group of ladies I didn't know and I sat on our yoga mats for almost three hours, talking about what brings us peace, what we need more of and how we can all support each other. It got us out of our comfort zone in many ways - addressing what we need for our selves rather than always trying to help and give to others. I told the group I loved making connections like these - offline, real-life, one-on-one conversations with no expectations and judgment. I also recently started re-reading Darcy Rezac's Work the Pond just to get back into the mindset of positive networking (& yes, there's a positive way to do it.)
It's a long road to finding that sweet balance between living a digital life while not forgetting to be present offline too. The important thing is to start on that road!
Do you have any recommendations for books or resources on the art of conversation? I'd love to hear them!