Communication Skills

The gamer stereotype of basement dwellers was fairly accurate in the early 90s/00s.  The explosion of acceptable geek, online communities, and now streaming has flipped that around.  Likely the most communicative people you find are going to be gamers.  Sort of begs the question if the issue was the people, or the medium.  I’d like to think it’s both.

Gamers traditionally want to share, rather than hear the sound of their own voice.  LAN parties, D&D sessions and whatnot.  Traditional media is one way, lacking any true sense of feedback or dialogue.  Bring in the interwebs and now there are platforms to share, and kablooey, here we are.  Social media was birthed from that mindset.  (Another topic as to what it’s warped into.)

I work in an IT field.  Communication skills are, for the most part, lacking.  Oh, they are all over social media, but they’ve modified their methods to fit the tool.  If it isn’t done in 140 characters, the interest is lost. The concept of long form, or complex dialogue is not something new hires have experience.  And because they generally value their online identity more than the message, they take a fair a lot of insult at any pushback.  It’s hard to block your boss after all.

Just the general concept of thinking before speaking seems to be a lost art.  I can see it in their eyes, all of a sudden they realize what’s come out and silence comes along, or some stuttering.  I don’t mind thinking out loud, that’s a good way to build up an idea with other people. But there are parts of a person’s life that I really don’t need to know about.

I’m clearly getting old here.  I’m in the middle of the workforce in terms of age, but there are many more generations of communications younger than me than older.  Google is older than some of my employees.  And I have students that are as old as Facebook.  Means that when I’m having a large group session, I need to apply a half dozen communication techniques to make sure everyone gets it.

There’s some irony to this topic appearing on a blog, as the audience is likely going to be people who already present long form ideas.   It’s one of the many reason I still blog, keeping that part of the brain active without it being loaded with work-related items.  It’s just an interesting fact that I’ve come to realize… as much as I spent effort building ideas, I spend quite a bit of effort communicating them.  Cause even the best idea in the world won’t go anywhere if people aren’t hearing about it.

4 thoughts on “Communication Skills

  1. My original, going back years and several blog name changes, was “When 140 characters is not enough”. I was a Twitizen in 2011-2012, following any Warcraft people, reading commenting, sharing my ideas. And invariably I found myself doing a 5 post Twitter one day. Someone said “you should really blog that”. It certainly is the format I prefer. You have the room to express a complete idea or thought.

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  2. I wonder how much it has to do with age and how much with inclination? Where I work, in a bookshop, every new recruit has had to talk about the books they’re reading during the interview – it’s a standard element of the process. Even to get as far as being interviewed they’ll have been asked some questions to ascertain that they are regular readers. The company doesn’t require first degrees for all staff any more (it used to) but they’re still by far the norm and the huge majority of those degrees will be liberal arts subjects.

    So, everyone can and does read longform, regardless of whether they’re sixty or twenty. But more than that, most also write long-form. It’s barely an exaggeration to say that half the people I work with are writing novels. There’s a college in the city that specializes in creative writing courses and at times it’s acted almost as a feeder for employment in the shop. We even have several published authors working in the branch and in the time I’ve worked there several others have left after getting publishing contracts and moving into writing full time.

    Most of the people I’ve worked with for the last twenty years, regardless of age, have been articulate to the point where it’s almost a problem in itself. They talk in long form too! And yet almost no-one, as far as I know, blogs. I’m very much the exception there. I’m not quite sure why that would be…

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  3. I think both age and inclination play a part.

    Culturally, the inclination towards short, pithy, combative and video outlets seems to have been increasingly rewarded in our modern internet age. Little wonder we see more of the younger generations trending towards that. If there are those in the younger generation that trend towards the long form, they end up as part of a more silenced minority, seeking outlets in small conclaves, like your average bookshop setting.

    In the pre-and early-internet eras, books and longform writing were what was rewarded. Letter writing, grammar classes and what not were thrown at those who found it difficult to express themselves in textual form, because that was posited as more ‘correct.’ So one would likely expect those who excel at verbosity to thrive and emerge from the woodwork, while those who preferred snappy rejoiners stuck to unrecorded verbal outlets.

    One might say that the rise of social media gave these people more of an internet voice. And surprise, surprise, we find that there are a lot more of them. (Or at least, of people willing to take the ten seconds to fire off a throwaway sentence than people willing to take ten minutes to put together coherent paragraphs.)

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    • Perhaps it deals more with the noise vs quality ratio. There’s certainly some cultural aspect, as the US takes up an insane amount of air. What I mean is that by bombarding in high volume, low quality “things”, it leaves much less space for the thought out pieces. It’s just one stupid crisis after another.

      Even if inclined, the system itself filters out and you either play the game or sit out. Which is somewhat painful for youth since the business of doing business is still based on thinking instead of reacting. And they enter a market without much practice in that skill.

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