Right away I’m in trouble

because we are not talking; I am typing, you are reading and perhaps (hopefully) you will type a comment in response to this post.

So – talking – can it mean typing, texting, tweeting, e-ing, voice-mailing?

I would say definitely no


definitely yes.

No, we are not talking because we are not verbally exchanging information face to face.

Yes, we are communicating and it is commonly assumed that if you ask Jill: “Did you talk to Jack?”  you really mean “Did you communicate with Jack?” because generally you don’t care if the person talked, typed, texted, tweeted, e-ed or voice-mailed.  We are asking Jill if she was in contact with Jack.  Then Jill has the option of answering with more specificity by saying “Jack and I exchanged e-mails and I learned that he loves to climb hills.”

I wonder if Dictionary.com can help in this discussion?

Definition of conversation:

informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.
This definition specifies “spoken” and “oral” – hmmm

Definition of talk:

to communicate or exchange ideas, information, etc., by speaking
There’s that “speaking” distinction again

Definition of communication:

to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information, or the like, by writing, speaking, etc.
OK, this term “communication” seems to cover typing, texting, tweeting, e-ing, voice-mailing.

Now we are making progress in my goal to convey my intention when I say “Let’s talk” but actually mean “Let’s engage in verbal intercourse;” which, if I said that would sound robotic (and maybe idiotic).

The BIG question:

Are all forms of communication equally effective in conveying a message?
Recently I had the chance to experience the same message through three different communication media:
  1. e-mail
  2. voice mail
  3. face-to-face (via video recording)

The biggest difference was the underlying tone of each message.

  1. When text was the only medium, the sender sounded harsh and maybe angry.
  2. Hearing the message as a voice mail message, I revised my assessment to think that the sender of the message was a peer (not supervisor) of the message receiver.
  3. Finally, watching the video, my impression was that the facial expression and body language of the speaker indicated that she was not expressing anger, just being firm in the delivery of her message.
Overall, well, overall it was not a life-like example because generally I would have a bit of background on the people, or the topic of conversation, or both.  So, I was quite concerned that the SAME information was being relayed in each media, unlike in that game “Telephone” where a whispered message is passed from one person’s ear to the next and around the fifth person you realize that the message changed from “my cat is wet” to “my cast set” (for example).

Ok, so in my little experiment I found that the nuances of the conversation were really important – I thought the e-mailer was angry, but I knew that the video talker was not angry (kind of an important distinction – ha ha).

Conclusions I can draw from this exercise are:

  • If you must use e-mail or other type-only form of communication try to be as explicit as you can.
  • If you don’t know your communication partner very well, live or voice might be best for your first meeting.
  • If you have to communicate something sensitive, live would be the best communication option (if that is possible).