No matter where I go in the world (and I've done a fair bit of traveling this past year), I end up in conversations with employers who decry the fact that the young people they take into their companies don't know how to talk.
Oh, yes, they are prolific texters. And Twitter addicts. And use their Facebook account as the basis for their social life. But they don't know how to talk. Face to face. Words that you have to put together on the fly, in front of the person with whom you are speaking.
Scares the heck out of them, I'm told. They prefer to sit at their desks and converse through their keypads.
That's a concern to people looking for the next generation of leaders among their young employees.
It occurs to me that there may be yet another class distinction shaping up here. One based not just on where you went to school, or how much your stock portfolio is worth, but whether you know how to carry on a conversation about a topic that has more gravitas than the latest "Jersey Shore" episode.
I remember a senior executive at a New York City company talking about how he determined which candidates he would vote for when the next round of hirees came in front of him. He said, "our HR people had already culled out those that couldn't meet our standard in terms of smarts. The people introduced to me were all smart. The big question for me was simply, "Do I want to sit next to this person on a plane? Will he/she be able to carry on a conversation on a cross country flight?
That was a number of years ago. I wonder what he would say about the current crop of college grads, many of whom I fear can't put two sentences together that have obvious subjects and predicates and none of those hated phrases like "You know" or "I mean" or "I was like..."
Do we need to teach conversational skills in our schools?