Every morning I walk a short route and on a lot of occasions I see the same man walking to get a newspaper. We have exchanged a quick ‘good morning’ on many days in the last 18 months. The other morning I was quite surprised when he stopped after the good morning and then asked me for my name. We had a quick exchange of names and then the next time we met it was great to be able to personalise the good morning.
The ability to talk and listen to people is still a vital part of society. It is also something that I have experienced much more living in the North than when I have spent time in the South. People appear to be more comfortable with having conversations with strangers or people they don’t really know. I have many examples of when this has happened and it is what makes life more colourful.
All organisations, companies, businesses and services need to ensure that frontline staff know how to have a conversation with people. It is the way the best and most enduring connections can be made and developed. Regardless of whether you want to sell a product or connect about a public service if you can’t speak to everyone at all levels then you have an uphill struggle. Some of these really basic skills, or elements of human nature, are things we have not valued enough.
In a world when young people grow up connecting through a screen they really need to make sure they know how to have a conversation in the real world. Social media has great opportunities and ways to connect but it isn’t everything. Young people need to feel comfortable in sharing their name like I did with the man they pass every morning rather than keep their eyes down and focus on where they are going.
I heard recently of a restaurant in London that is going to allow self-service kiosks, mobile payment and basically a chance to buy food without ever speaking to anyone. I am not sure that I like that idea. I can buy food and never speak to anyone when I go to the supermarket and use the self-service till. But actually I like being able to speak to people especially if I am sitting down and eating a meal. I can’t see me going to try the restaurant out any time soon.
I love being able to use social media and write words online, like I am doing now, but I never want to lose the chance and ability of sharing some words face-to-face.