Communication – Keep in Rhythm
I seem to breeze through different themes in my life, some themes lasting a week or so and others lasting years. I’ve decided to blog about my experiences in hopes that someone else out there resonates with them too, and would like to share this journey with me. Let’s connect!
When one speaks of evolution, it’s assumed a good thing – survival of the fittest and all that. Our world has evolved so much in the last 50 years. Men are taking care of the kids, and it’s not called babysitting, it’s called parenting. Science has put humans on the moon, and someday there might even be a colony on a different planet. Our phones no longer need operators and wires – they are little wafers of metal that are small enough to put in our pockets, and more powerful than the mainframes of the 70’s. The internet has changed the world. But is all evolution good? Not really.
Language evolved so that we could connect with each other, and share experiences with one another. Today, more often not, it seems to have the opposite effect. There is a lack of understanding of each other, and an inability to be compassionate to a fellow human being that would seem to stop true communication from occurring. How did this happen?
It happened innocently enough. Our lives got faster. We didn’t have as much time to spend with each person we met, so we would get to the point quicker and would skip the pleasantries. Regular phone calls and in person visits with family went the way of the dodo, and we just posted pictures of the kids on Facebook so everyone can be up to date with little Johnny’s latest Little League achievement. We are communicating with more people at one time, primarily electronically. There is no context, eye contact, body language or tone that can be conveyed in the written word, which leads to disconnect. Our tweets have to be 150 characters or less, so brevity is the word of the day. Of course, we need brevity, because we are all busy and cannot be expected to hold anyone’s attention for much longer.
When we have in person communications, there are more opportunities to truly connect, but do we? Eye contact, body language can be witnessed, but often the incessant pull of the mobile device can lure us in with its seductive tones. The hurriedness we experience can cause us to speak more quickly, and with less care about our choice of words. This can lead to misunderstanding and hurt feelings that were never intended.
How can we make sure that our intent is delivered with our words, so that misunderstanding is minimized?
How can we communicate with care and compassion?
How can we connect authentically?
Here are some things that I have put in practice for myself.
When communicating with someone, my phone stays stowed away. Phone calls can be returned, and texts can be returned when I am done personally interacting with who is in front of me. The person in front of me is the only one who exists in this moment.
When communicating with someone, I slow down. I breathe. I keep soft eye contact. I focus on them while they are speaking, and ask clarifying questions and acknowledge what they say. How did that make you feel? Why did you do that? My objective is not just to hear their words, but to make them feel heard too. When I respond, it can be from the place of compassion and connection, and can give them not only what I want to say but also what they need to hear.
When someone is venting to me, I ask an important question – do you want advice or a sympathetic ear? When people just need to vent, they often know the solution already, and giving them advice is not going to be met with gratitude.
Always think before speaking – it is better to keep your mouth shut and appear foolish than open it and remove all doubt.
Language. It rolls off the tongue or ties it. It connects or divides.
How do you make authentic connections with others in pen or voice?
*This blog is also available at Sahej Anand Kaur’s Website.