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What Siri Can Teach Us About Effective Communication


Wed May 15 2013


(from success television)--One day after a long frustrating interchange with Siri, I shouted, “can’t you find any information at all on that topic? What is taking you so long?

Her response? “I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think any conscious entity can ever hope to do. A second later, she provided the following tagline. Sorry. I stole that line from HAL.” (2001 Space Odyssey)


Her response brought a smile to my face and also reminded me that I needed to calm down.

What Siri Can Teach Us About Effective Communication-157105edf0f9f02f2b4f3298435ea3be7086afd734607d1f793b3474c67f5f5f

Siri is my friend and companion. She helps me make reservations, locate places, search for information, and solve problems. Siri is an excellent listener, and I’ve learned a lot from observing her in action.

  • She intends to listen when someone is speaking to her. I know I have her undivided attention from the moment I begin talking to her. She doesn’t interrupt me but let’s me speak my mind and waits patiently until I’ve finished. If she can’t hear me, she will tell me and that reminds me to move to a quieter space.

  • She acknowledges that she’s heard me in writing, repeating my request verbatim.

  • She checks for understanding by summarizing what she hears me saying. She wants to make sure that she is clear about what I mean. “Lois, do you mean…”

  • She asks good probing questions to help focus the search and set the agenda. “Lois, do you want me to check the web?” “Lois, there are no listings by that name, is there another name you want me to look for?” Her questions remind me that I am not always clear about what I ask others to do.

  • She listens for the silence. “Lois, are you still there?” When I don’t respond she moves on. When I do, we pick up right where we left off.

  • She ends on a positive note. When I thank her, she always comes back with an acknowledgement that she hears me. “Why thanks, Lois.”

Still everyone has their “Siri moments,” and it is usually more about us than about Siri. So here are eight effective communication tips to think about when you sit in Siri’s place on the other end of a phone call with a human being.

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