Better Conversations Newsletter
"Conversation Skills for Bright People"
Dr. Loren EkrothLoren Ekroth, Ph.D.
aka "Dr.Conversation" 
Full Spectrum Face Time Conversation vs Electronic Communication
Loren Ekroth photo
Today's Contents
Today's Article
Attention Las Vegas!
Jest Words
Little Known Fact about Loren
Words of Inspiration
Conversation Quotation
Yesterday in History
Reprint or Republish
Please Post on Social Media
Quick Links
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This Week's Issue:
August 27, 2014
Today's Contents


Words in today's article: 680   Est. reading time: 3.5 minutes


What You'll Find in This Issue


1.   This Week's Article

2.   Attention Las Vegas Subscribers!

3. Conversation Quotation 

4. Jest Words

5. Little Know Fact About Loren Ekroth

6. Yesterday in History

7. Words of Inspiration

8. Reprint and Republish   

9. Please Post in Social Media


  1. Full Spectrum Face Time Conversation vs Electronic Communication


Today's focal points:


Reducing time for face-to-face conversation results in reduced learning in two critical areas: 1. How to receive and read body language and vocal qualities feedback from others. 2. Development of self-confidence, a good vocabulary, and social and workplace interpersonal skills.


Historical Background:


Before the internet and smart phones, television was the culprit that reduced or eliminated conversation in homes. Remember the "TV dinners" and "TV trays?" Families would sit on couches eating dinner from their trays, and watch their favorite programs on the "tube."  "Shhh! no talking."


Decades later came the cell phones and Facebook and Twitter and texting.


Here's what various studies by psychologists concluded:


"Too much time with your smartphone may lead to poor conversational skills."


"In their presence, people have the constant urge to seek out information, check for communication and direct their thoughts to other people and worlds." (So wrote Shalini Misra, a psychology professor at Virginia Tech in the U.S.)


When people are distracted by their phones, they tend to miss subtle cues such as changes in facial expression.


How about pairs of conversers? Misra's study found that many visitors to a caf� sitting in pairs or small groups checked their phone every three to five minutes. (How is a serious conversation possible?) For learning social skills, you must be able to read the feedback of the sender. 


Twittering, so brief, can be ambiguous or vague, like some old paper telegrams. E.g., "I'm not feeling well," and "What are you doing later?" and "yes, your performance was really interesting."  What do those mean, specifically?


A different study concluded that, on average, teenage girls checked their Facebook accounts roughly 100 times each day.


How about plain old phone messaging, aka "audio time?" Here's a complaint I have heard from mothers describing messages from their daughters living away from home:  "Mom, if you want to communicate with me, don't phone. Text me." Missing is the emotional quality of a young adults voice that can be decoded by the mother.


What is required for complete communication between persons is face to face interaction. That provides for "full duplex" communication where sender and receiver can both send messages at the same time. Both communicate, one with words and nonverbal signals, the other only with nonverbal signals.


You develop self-confidence by learning social skills, and to do that, you must be able to read the feedback of the sender. With text messaging and Twittering, meanings can be vague or ambiguous, like old-fashioned telegrams. "What are you doing later?" or "I'm not feeling well," for example, are vague.


What some families are doing to combat the intrusion of electronics at meal time:


Simple rules: NO TV on, no phones or iPads at the dinner table. Period.


What some restaurant and cafes are doing:


They identify each person's device with a tag and give each a stub, just like baggage claim. (or like coat checking.)


They offer drink discounts for those who leave their devices at the door. (Singapore's "Social Rehab" does this.)


The Chinatown Experiment, a temporary coffee shop in Vancouver, designed as a large Faraday cage, an enclosure made of a mesh of conducting material that blocks any electric signals.


Other restaurants offer discounts on meals like buy one, get one free. They don't want guests annoyed by a guy nearby talking on his phone.


Don't get me wrong here. I'm all for the internet and could not be sending you this newsletter without it. Also, I am glad to have a cell phone for road emergencies and important personal messaging.


Today's Take-away: Establish some rules for use of "electronic devices."


Simple ones like "No phones at out dinner table." When you're in charge, you can set the rules. When you're a co-equal with others, you can suggest agreement: "Would you agree to put away your phones during our time together?"  


Rules work: In Hawaii, many casual restaurants post this rule:"No shirt, no shoes, no service."  (It works for them.)


Until next week, Loren

2. Attention! Las Vegas Subscribers!

Less than a week to go for this free public event with Loren


Sahara West Library, 9600 W. Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV, 89117 Time: 2:15-4:15 p.m. Enjoy quality conversation about fascinating topics and questions. Informal, hosted by Dr. Loren Ekroth

Bottled water supplied. No other food or drinks allowed in library.

Abundant public parking. Please arrive at meeting room by 2:15.

Free and open to the public. If you will attend, please send a message to indicating number of attendees. 
3. Jest Words  Just Punning

She was only a whisky-maker, but he loved her still.


A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from an algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.


No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.  

4. Little Known Fact About Loren Ekroth


Loren was awarded the first Ph.D. in the nascent field of Intercultural Communication granted in the world. (1967) He earned the degree from

the University of Minnesota. He and his advisor, Prof. William S. Howell, co-created his program of study and research, which included courses and seminars in anthropology, linguistics, psychology, and communication studies, plus six months of field research in Bogota, Colombia investigating communication between Colombian and U.S. business executives.

5. Words of Inspiration


"We are not like tulips or tigers, pre-destined to grow into a consistent and identical form of life. We are sentient beings, who should form our own distinct persona, influence, and legacy. To simply follow the paths of others, to act without questioning, to show no interest in understanding life's meaning or our relationship to nature--this is to be a herd animal. We seem to seek commonality, from fashion to recreation, from friends to careers. What we should be seeking is uniqueness, a different cadence, a new route. It's easy to follow, it's tougher to lead, but it's toughest to be yourself in a world trying to make you generic. Resist, at all cost." --Alan Weiss


6. Conversation Quotation

"The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people they think it's their fault." --Henry Kissinger (1923-)

7. Yesterday, August 26, in History


On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, was declared in effect.

8. Reprint or Republish

You have my permission to copy and distribute or republish my articles if you add the following attribution at the end of the article:  


Used with permission of Dr. Loren Ekroth, publisher of "Better Conversations" newsletter. Complimentary subscriptions at

9. Please Post on Social Media
Just above the header "Better Conversations Newsletter" at the top of this issue, you'll see icons for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Clicking on any icon to add a comment and post it so your friends can access this newsletter.


Your assistance will help to "Raise the Standard of

Conversation in Life."  Many thanks.

Loren Ekroth �2014, all rights reserved


Loren Ekroth, Ph.D. is a specialist in human communication and a national expert on conversation for business and social life. 


Contact at