October 04, 2009

Voices In The Dark

How come we're so much more likely to lower our guard when we're chatting with someone we can't see?

I've been hearing quite a lot lately about the quality of the conversations that are to be had online, particularly through the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It seems people are more frank and much less defensive. Ideas flow more readily and people are more inclined to share. Often, there's a generosity of spirit that you don't find off-line.

I was reminded of this the other night when I overheard my two boys busily chatting away after lights-out. Ten minutes earlier, they'd been bickering like late-summer wasps and we'd had to intervene before someone got badly stung. Now, they filled the short space between top and bottom bunks with the warm, honeyed buzz of their conversation.

I remembered the same from my own childhood; my sister and I calling across the landing between our two rooms until the call to get to sleep came from downstairs. Whatever divided us during the day faded away once darkness fell.

We see things so much more clearly in the dark when there's a friendly voice nearby so it should be no great surprise that our companions online speak and swap ideas more freely in that space.

Whilst the texted word may not have the same weight or resonance as those uttered across campfire and between bunk bed, it still seems to prompt a heart-to-heart frankness that's seldom found in more traditional business exchanges.

It's not for everyone, or for every type of business, but this opportunity to give and take through a very different kind of exchange is too important to dismiss out of hand. Why not ask yourself whether your relationship with your customer would be enriched by taking the conversation online?

Over To You: Which type of business relationships do you believe are best suited to 'voices in the dark'?

1 comment:

Paul O'Connor said...

Voices in the dark work best when both sides are willing to listen out for the other's voice penetrating the void, and to respond accordingly to their request for sharing, support or empathy.

It falls apart when one of the voices starts snoring (metaphorically speaking, of course)!