The art of communication is slowly dying within our society. At least, that’s the way it appears to me.
I was riding in to my job last week (on my Harley) when I noticed the woman in the car next to me. She was talking but it appeared no one was listening. I was wrong. Someone was listening…in fact two people were listening. They were small children, sometimes referred to by my father as “pre-people”…little kids, strapped in firmly to their booster seats. The woman (I’ll presume that she was their mom) was having a conversation with her children through the rear view mirror in her car.
I remember doing that very thing. I drove a truck for many years (still do on occasion), and when my girls were younger I’d strap them into their seats in the back (it had an extended cab, and then later a full crew cab) whenever we were out and about. On the way to the store, or the park, or the movies (I don’t think we missed a single Disney film during a 10 year run) or to school, we would have “mirror conversations” constantly. I miss those days. At the time they didn’t seem like they were all that important, but looking back now with the benefit of hindsight…oh yes they were very important. As the kids grew, so did the conversations. They became more animated, more give and take and more important each time.
The “kids” are all now young adults, and it’s difficult to get them to slow down long enough to have a conversation with them. There are weeks that sometimes go by, and all I can hope for is that I’ll get a decently quick response to my voicemail soon enough. And I understand how it is–they all have their priorities, they all are busy, and they all love their dad. But when we do get the chance to talk, I am amazed at how much more meaningful and valuable the conversations have become.
We live in an age when the technology and tools we have can truly benefit our lives. But I fear we are entering a time when the art of good conversation may be suffering a bit from the overabundance of technology (if that’s possible). Texting is common place, the “twittersphere” is active, and why talk when a quick video or “snapchat” photo will do? I use all of these too, so I understand the simplicity and availability of the tools, but we need to remember to talk. And listen. And talk some more. And listen some more. Even picking up the telephone has at least a little more depth than a simple text message or email.
I work in a building that isn’t all that large. Email communication is pretty standard fare here, which is fine as a business tool and sometimes required to assist with tracking/remembering details and following up on particular items. But I still enjoy getting out of my chair, out from behind my desk, and walking the hall to have a conversation, even if it’s only for a few minutes. As you approach your next week, give some thought towards how you are communicating with those around you. And put a little renewed effort into having a good conversation every now and then. You might be surprised by how it makes you feel and think, as well as what it can do to stimulate the other person to communicate better. Let’s keep our ability to talk, listen and interact with those around us as strong as ever. It can make a positive difference in our work lives, our family lives and our own personal life.