Technology has generally improved my life. But there is one activity where it has definitely screwed me up. Since using communication technology (specifically mostly text and voice without video) I have seriously increased my interrupting. I've been watching it increase significantly over the past 6 months, floundering, not knowing what to do. I hate it when I am interrupted, and even more so, hate it when I catch myself doing it. Sometimes you have to on a conference call, since there are no non-verbal cues. But more recently... I am bulldozing into conversations and sentences without a concern for who is talking... and I blame it on (well besides myself) my significant use of text communication.
Yes. Increased text communication has increased my interruption of people, even when I am face to face. The text communication has shifted the way I communicate on a core level. Here's how. (And why.)
Background: I spend a significant amount of time in text chats on Skype. I would say, at least 10-20 hours a week. (That's probably an under-estimate.) Since I am in a geographically dispersed team. I spend another 10+ hours communicating in extremely clear emails or email conversations. These are not dissimilar from the skype chats, except that the conversations take days.
In both these situations, I am in control of when and what I communicate. I do not have to wait my turn to write and send an email. There can be 3 people texting in the group chat at the same time. Sure, I have to wait to get my answer, but if someone asks a question, we are not limited to one response at a time. Two people can respond (or in the face to face world, would be speaking) at the same time. However in the speaking world, you generally notice your error and someone stops. One can't parse two voice streams at the same time. However one can parse two (or more) typed streams.... and we are doing this more and more.
Threaded, nested and parallel conversations are not out of the ordinary. Many of us have these all the time. On our cell phone, smart phone or mobile device, text, twitter, email, gchat, work email, facebook. We are all getting very good at parsing and following multi-level/threaded stories and conversations.
<Reminds me of the time I was having three conversations with two other people. I was in Brasil and my broth was visiting me. He did not speak any Portuguese. We were out with a friend who didn't speak any English. I was have a conversation in English with my brother, in Portuguese with my friend and translating the conversation between my brother and my friend into the appropriate Portuguese or English.>
Back to my interruptions. Being exposed, living and creating the environment where it's all text, there are no verbal cues, where there is never an interruption (or alternately, it's all an interruption) has completely fucked with my ability to wait to hear what other people say.
It's not that I don't want to hear what they have to say. I'm just used to not having to wait to hear them. That, I can say what I want to say, while they are saying (typing) what they want to say. This breaks down in verbal words, where one must wait for another to finish speaking.
This is exacerbated by the soapbox. Once you get on a roll, and no one is interrupting you, well, it's hard to stop. It's like being stuck in a traffic jam and then suddenly all the traffic went away and you have the clear, wide open road.
I don't like interrupting people. But I don't know how to stop. I know how and why I got sucked back into interrupting. (The technology re-programmed parts of my communication methodologies), but.... how to get back. How to show the respect to those who are speaking, those who I _want_ to hear.
It's a problem of switching mediums. Of switching the accepted communication methods. The primary method become the default. And unfortunately for my verbal conversations, that has changed.