I think Siri- Apple's new personal assistant on the iPhone 4s may actually help improve your personal relationships. And not just because you can send a text without typing, get directions and maybe manage your time a little better.
It's said that the closer any two people are, the more inclined they are to communicate poorly. In an American Management Association workshop on active listening I attended, the instructor pointed out that, in general, married couples tend to communicate the worst because familiarity with each other tends to reduce the degree to which we really listen. Coworkers are the next in line for poor communication, followed by friends, followed by acquaintances. It's funny and almost sad to think that in general we have a tendency to communicate better with the person ringing up our groceries than we do with our closest loved ones.
I asked Siri a question the other day, and the response was something along the lines of "I do not understand your question." I stopped and realized, I'm talking to a machine that, after only a few days, I felt comfortable with and started getting casual. But this machine, instead of getting casual with me, was completely direct about my question not making any sense. At first I was just a little bit frustrated because I know I was clear. But then my frustration turned into embarassment when I realized that Siri said I wasn't, and Siri doesn't agree with you because of familiarity, body language or other subtle cues. Siri works based on Siri's set of rules and learnings. So if Siri doesn't understand me, I wasn't clear. I need to make the effort to be understood and adjust myself for the party I'm communicating with. This, at its essence, is what communication between two parties is all about.
Could Siri actually help train us to be more accountable for our communication skills?
P.S. I wrote this entire post without typing.