Blog Post

A problem with online conversations

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 28 April 2014



A problem with online conversations
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 166
Posted DateMonday 28 April 2014 16:15 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

One of the problems of discussing issues in on-line forums is that it is far too easy to be misunderstood.

When you compose a post, you often overlook to explain a lot of the background context and much of your reasoning and so you open yourself up to misunderstanding.

And when reading another person's post, maybe their reply, you misinterpret what they have written in a similar manner. Unlike face to face conversation, you can't correct misunderstandings easily and quickly. and so it is easy to slide into an argument.

What makes things worse, is that you know there are possibly hundreds of observers watching the exchange and you do not wish to lose face.

You also have the problem that when having a conversation with someone you know well you can read between the lines. Even when they state something badly, you know what they really mean. But of course the observers don't and so you feel the need to respond to the issues as stated and not as understood else you are in danger of being misunderstood yourself by the observers and thus open yourself up to attack.

This is just one of the reasons why I think online forums are great for sharing stuff but not so good for two way interactive conversations especially where the participants do not know each other well.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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