October 28, 2014

The Need for Heartfelt Communication





Does anybody really listen anymore?  How often do we really stop what we’re doing, make eye contact, and show that we care about what the speaker is sharing?  I know that I often “listen” while I’m typing on a keyboard, or doing some household chore. But, can that really be labeled as listening?

Have we stopped believing in the importance of written and spoken communication without the benefit of electronics?

Why is focus important?

Doesn’t true communication involve an actual connection of the souls, not just a system of trading superficial dialogue? I find that often, when I speak with people, I’m not truly considering what they’re saying. Instead, I’m thinking about my response. I might also be pondering tasks that I must do. 

As a result of my inattention, I could miss an important point that the speaker was trying to make. This has happened many times. I notice that people will often say to me “I already told you that.” On the other hand, I notice that some people don’t always remember the details of what I said to them moments earlier.

That reminds me of a conversation that I had with a friend yesterday. We happened to run into each other at our kids’ school. We were distracted from the beginning because we knew that we only had a few moments to talk before the kids dismissed. The conversation wasn’t deep. 

It appears that we were working too hard to quickly inform each other of our latest family news; I don’t think that either of us was listening that well. We were similar to water faucets turned on full blast: we would take turns gushing out our latest news, and then turn ourselves off. Running water doesn’t leave a lasting impression. It goes down the drain and you forget about it.

What is True Communication?

A Google+ friend of mine wisely notes that conversation doesn’t merely consist of words. Conversation also involves body language and facial expressions. In fact, sometimes words can get in the way of the authentic feelings that we’re trying to communicate—or cover up.

Many other conditions can also get in the way of an authentic exchange of ideas, such as:
  • Hearing loss
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of interest
  • Inability to focus
When Spoken Communication is Hurried, Written Communication is, too.

It’s no secret that there are two modes of communication in this new age of information: fast and faster. High-school students know how to text and Skype at lightning speed, but how many of them know how to sit down and have an actual conversation, or put together a coherent research paper?

I talked to one college professor who claims that many of his students text during his lectures and write on an elementary-school level.

I notice that my own kids have an attention span of about three minutes on topics that don’t interest them. I read various novels set in previous decades that describe meals, or conversations, that last for hours. Those days are gone. Now, we’re all busy. Some of us are lucky to find time to have 20-minute sit-down dinners with our families.