What’s the difference between talking and communicating?
At first glance, the words might appear to mean pretty much the same thing. They make you think about the act of someone conveying information, ideas or opinions to one or more other people, whether it’s a friend, family member, complete stranger, or target audience if you’re a marketer. But in reality “talking” and “communicating” can be two very different things.
This idea was the topic of discussion at Mobium’s most recent New Paradigm event here in Chicago, which featured guest speaker Dr. Geoffrey Tumlin. Dr. Tumlin is the author of Stop Talking, Start Communicating, a book exploring how the “communication revolution” of the past 15 years has arguably made it much easier for people to talk more frequently to a wider group of people, but at the same time it has made true communication more difficult.
One of the ways Dr. Tumlin explained this idea was in terms of higher and lower order communication. An example of higher order communication, he said, is being able to have an argument with someone without yelling and making it unnecessarily heated. This would be communicating, not just talking. On the other hand, an example of lower order communication would be firing off quick responses without much thought to the impact they’ll have on the conversation or the relationship with the person or people you’re addressing. And in the current times of social media status updates and text messaging, lower order communication has become commonplace while higher order communication is eroding from lack of use. To further illustrate the point, Dr. Tumlin said he often comes across young people who are painfully shy when having to engage in face-to-face communication, since the majority of their interactions are done online or on their phones.
This has also affected marketers, he said, who now often send their impersonal messages out to their audience without much regard to how it will be received and what exactly it will mean to the audience.
Throughout the presentation and discussion, I found myself agreeing with just about everything Dr. Tumlin had to say. Personally, I always do my best to try to communicate and not just talk. It can be difficult to do in today’s world, but I’ve found that stopping to think about what you’re about to say and how it might be received by whoever you’re addressing can make a huge difference–whether it’s an email, Twitter post or statement you make to someone face-to-face.
What do you think?