Manuel Ozaeta, Consultant

The water cooler serves a dual purpose. First it is utilitarian- where you can replenish your container, whether it is cup, glass or bottle with the filtered goodness of Mother Nature. More than that, it serves as a common venue where people can gather and have small, intimate conversations on trivial news items of the day.

The latest round of water cooler talk across America includes:

“Manti Te’o is totally lying.”

“Mariah Carey and Nikki Minaj are going to fist fight on Idol, no not fist bump, fist fight!”

and/or  “My Second Amendment rights will not be trampled on. I heart my guns.”

While the topics above may be considered insignificant or inconsequential, this one-on-one interaction is essential to help us raise our basic human communication skills.  Although we are more connected than ever, including through the many social media avenues of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we seem to be lacking in the simple art form of conversation.

Today, we have no problem, IM’ing, email chatting or texting, but give a second thought to picking up the phone.  We are more social network savvy, yet we are losing our grip on speaking directly to one another and allowing technology to drive us apart.

As any PR or communications professional will tell you, in order to be understood, you must be heard. There is a Mexican saying that I grew up with, “Speaking to each other, we better understand each other.”  A text cannot convey the inflection of hesitation or worry. An emoticon, albeit cute, will never express genuine laughter.

Let us not be afraid to talk, even if it about the simplest of matters. Building relationships can begin through these easy conversations. Chatting over the water cooler allows you to get acquainted with your colleagues and is also the “greenest” option for hydration.

So join me by the water cooler and let’s talk about Lance Armstrong.