Learn More About Sherry Turkle
We marvel at the new connections enabled by our digital devices. Yet they also create barriers to creativity and collaboration in the workplace and inhibit communication in personal relationships. If we are always thinking about our phones, we cannot be fully present to each other, says MIT sociologist and New York Times bestselling author Sherry Turkle.
Since the early days of the personal computer revolution, Turkle has sounded the alarm about technology’s role in undermining human empathy. This begins with its assault on the capacity for solitude, the place where empathy is born.
“To activate empathy, we need to create spaces where people can disagree on ideas while developing an understanding of other viewpoints,” says Turkle. “We know that conversations are limited by our prejudices as much as by our distractions. Empathy doesn’t begin with, ‘I know how you feel.’ It starts with the realization that you don’t know how another feels. In that ignorance, you start with an offer of conversation.”
Turkle – who is often referred to as the “Margaret Mead of digital culture” – has taught us how technology changes not just what we do but who we are. In her latest book, “The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir” (Penguin Books, March 2021), which was named a top book of 2021 by The New York Times staff critics, she examines how technology can both enhance our connections to each other but also get in the way, at home, in school, and in our business life. “Among other things,” she says, “our devices offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy or the challenges of empathy.”
Since the publication of her New York Times bestseller, “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” (Penguin Books, 2015), Turkle has been moving from research on conversation to helping people cultivate empathy through participation and engagement. Part of that work has her conducting workshops for organizations, schools, and community groups. She believes empathy is a necessary component of citizenship. In our divided country, she says, we need to learn new techniques for listening to and engaging with each other.
As an advisor, speaker, and author, Turkle teaches leaders and employees in every sector how to strike a balance between leveraging the best of technology while maintaining healthy levels of engaged human interactions. Her insights around building sensitivity and fostering constructive communication “offscreen” give organizations the tools they need to build a more productive, innovative and inclusive culture.
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Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT. She is the founding director of the Initiative on Technology and Self, a center of research and reflection on the evolving connections between people and artifacts.
Her 2011 book, “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” (Basic Books, 2011) sounded an early warning about the human costs of too much digital communication in our lives. It became the subject of a featured TED Talk in 2012, which has received more than 6 million views.
Turkle has been profiled in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American and WIRED, and has been a featured commentator on CNN, NBC, ABC and NPR. She has also appeared on Nightline, 20/20 and The Colbert Report. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she is a Harvard Centennial Medalist, and she has been a Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year.
She received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.
Sherry Turkle is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Our increased reliance on digital technology has brought us out of balance with what we need as people: rich, robust and trusting relationships. In the workplace, technology is too often part of a flight from face-to-face conversation. Yet, it is through conversation that the relationships and ideas that underlie successful enterprises are born and thrive.
Beyond traditional talks, lectures and workshops about why and what it takes to be a conversational organization, Sherry Turkle advises individuals and organizations on how to become one – through hands-on, immersive collaboration. A trusted advisor and master of implementation, she is an extension of your team. In short order, she identifies what’s most relevant to your business, diagnosing critical issues and opportunities that inform her prescriptive, unique-to-you solutions. Sherry’s research is in-depth; her recommendations are robust yet practical.
Sherry applies decades of proven research alongside her Reclaiming Conversation® framework and tools to help you – and your leaders and their teams – change behavior. Her expert counsel pinpoints the policies, procedures and programs required to make change real and workable within your organization.
Reclaim conversation within your organization – and/or with your customers and the world at large. Talk to Sherry about how she can become part of your team and dial-in to what it will take to make change happen for your business.