As a successful voiceover artist and studio engineer I have spent my career talking.
Conversation is central to what I do. I talk about talking to friends, families, clients, microphones, on panels and anyone who will listen. Recently I discussed the art of conversation in a multigenerational workplace, at a recent LSE panel celebrating 30 years of CEMS.
However, I face a future of uncertainty. We all do. In my field of work I am always conscious that perhaps technology will replace me one day. Alexa and Siri and their descendants may soon have me out of business. The introduction of these technologies has been hailed as the new wave of auto attendants, catering to our whims of lights being on or off, answering our questions about the next 341 bus or simply popping on our favourite piece of music (today it was Caro Emerald’s Just one Dance).
While I am in favour of technological advances to aid humans be able to achieve their dreams and make our lives easier, I wonder if it is even possible for technology to replace conversation authentically?
Kai-Fu Lee in his recent Ted Talk discusses values and humanity in relation to AI. He asks – it was deep learning that really pushed AI forward but what about the human conversation? How do we differentiate ourselves in the future?
AI can take away those routine jobs, but I believe that only conversation with others – with love, compassion and authenticity – will allow us to differentiate ourselves and thrive in the new workplace and the future.
Here are five reasons why:
- Recent CEMS research suggests that rather than high levels of technical proficiency, exceptional people skills, including connecting and mastering conversation, will help today’s workforce navigate the volatile, uncertain world. The most successful leaders will be those who can skillfully develop others to get the best out of them and create the conditions to excel. Effective communicators will be required, who understand complex human nature – embedded in culture – much better than before.
- Conversation is at the heart of building global networks. An email, WhatsApp message or slack pool can be a start but a true connection – that certain something, that love – means reaching out, talking and connecting. As an entrepreneur with a huge network and creative melting pot, a conversation can clear up so much and brings us closer together. As independent, interdependent beings, we rely on each other as much as we rely on ourselves. As a graduate of CEMS I see this too in the networks I share with other alumni across the world who I know I can rely on, wherever I am in the world and whatever situation I am in.
- Conversation is the key to building links and opening up boundaries in an increasingly polarised world. You will more easily be able to understand cultural differences and pick up subtleties which could make the difference between success and failure of a project when working in global teams. Having an appreciation of different cultures and ways of working is an empathetic skill that will be necessary in this new future.
- Technology has made my life easier with recording software and organisational software to connect faster with clients and suppliers around the world. But with the rise of this technological change and AI we must be careful not to miss out on something – that time and space to authentically connect to another person with a real genuine conversation. An authentic conversation, where all are actively listening and hearing is how humanity can grow and really develop. You can detect someone’s feelings, know how to gauge a conversation and importantly avoid things being badly misconstrued by face to face contact or picking up a phone to speak directly, rather than email or text.
- Let’s face it, life is full of trials and tribulations. When challenges or failure overwhelm you or confuse you then reaching out and asking for help enables you to put things into perspective, learn and experience other viewpoints and build resilience. As a result, talking to people is a key life skill that promotes good health and mental health. Indeed loneliness was cited in research last year as a greater public health hazard than obesity.
Let’s not forget our own humanity in this brave new future. Let’s get connected and stay connected by having authentic conversations.
About the author
Lorraine Ansell is an award-nominated voice over artist and studio engineer. She previously worked in communications for L’Oréal, YSL, Stella McCartney and Amnesty International. She is a graduate of CEMS (Global Alliance in Management Education).