Every business is built upon people. Odds are if you're reading this, you're one of them. This past summer I was giving a presentation on collaborative technology and introducing the audience to some of the tools available today. In addition to discussing document production tools such as Google Docs and One Drive we also talked about some of the techniques for facilitation discussion while creating documents. There's a slew of video enabled chat software out there for free, but as one participant reminded the group there's nothing that replaces face to face.
Over the past few years we've all taught ourselves to do less face to face. We've spent more time with email and screens then we have with one another. There are probably people in your organization who feel unprepared to have a real conversation. They do great work, but when they talk the conversation always takes a turn towards awkward. A New York Times article fromSeptember recommends that it takes seven minutes to decide if a conversation is going to be interesting. Think about it. Seven minutes without looking at a screen! Seven minutes just to figure out if the conversation was worth your time.
When engaging people in your organization seven minutes (even if they're awkward) is enough time to reinforce that the person you're talking to is important to you and the organization. Sure, seven minutes is plenty of time to let the conversation go awkward but as a skilled conversationalist you know you can pull it back from awkward to something more productive. Oh, and if you're going to give me seven minutes be patient with me. I've had a lot of screen time recently.