The world we live in today is very different from the time our parent’s grew up in. There wasn’t the Internet, email, smartphones or even text messaging. In order to communicate with one another, they had to write letters, speak face-to-face, or call them on a landline phone. These may be methods that you feel you can relate to, but they almost certainly make up less than the majority of your communication on a day-to-day basis. These methods of communication to our generation are far and few between because we are “connected” all of the time. But because we are “connected,” does that mean we actually communicate less?
I recently took a new job position and was required to go through the standard performance agreement my company implements every year outlining expectations in the role. During the session, my manager said to me, “if someone isn’t responding to email, go to their desk if they are in the office, or call them on the phone.” Whoa! You want me to go talk to someone in person? Call them on the phone? What is this 1990? This stuck with me, because it now changes how I work. Being a millennial, I am as connected as the next person with a number of social media accounts, the newest tech, and multiple email accounts. I prefer to do everything online and avoid phone calls to a degree. It’s easier to send an email or text because I don’t have to step out of the room or find somewhere quiet to talk. This seems great, but in reality this type of communication is less personal.
Are We Really Communicating?
Communication is at the root of human behavior and interaction. On a daily basis, whether we are at home or at work, we are always on our phones texting or messaging someone about anything we can think of. The girl to your right is messaging her best friend about the cute guy she just saw. The man on the train is texting his wife about what to pick up for dinner. It is these everyday life situations where having technology makes talking to one another incredibly easy. But just because we are talking to one another, it doesn’t mean we are being personal, genuine, and/or making a true connection.
Communication is much more than words on paper or a screen. The way the message is conveyed through tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language play a huge role in how the message is received. It is impossible to tell these cues through a text message. If we are always texting or messaging, we lose the ability to communicate effectively. This is especially important in social and professional situations. Why do you think the “computer geek” is socially awkward? More often than not they rarely have face-to-face communication with anyone besides the text on their monitor or TV. Being able to express your feelings and emotions is important to develop socially.
There are many blogs out there that “teach” you how to be a more effective communicator. One blog I found to be particularly interesting is positivityblog.com. I won’t go into detail on this, rather leave it up to the experts. I claim to not be an expert on communication, as I am guilty of being impersonal. One important thing I found is that you have to genuinely take an interest in someone else in order to develop true friendships and social status. Taking an interest doesn’t mean asking the question, “how was your day?” Taking an interest means listening to what the other person has to say and reflecting and responding. Remember, good conversation isn’t stimulated with yes and no questions.
For some people, they just have the natural ability to speak to people and be genuine in what they are saying. For others, we must work at it to be effective and not come off as “I really don’t care what you have to say.” The next time you find yourself in a social situation (you really should get out from behind your monitor or phone screen and talk to the person nearest you), take a second to think about how this interaction will be different from any of the previous conversations you have had. You will be surprised by prepping yourself for a social interaction really can do a lot for your self esteem and confidence.
Communication is critical in any relationship. May it be a friendship, a relationship with a significant other, or a business partner relationship, communication is key. I certainly have had my battles with communicating in my relationships both romantic, as well as, professionally. Everybody does. The only way to become more effective with this is by practicing. Take time to sit down with your spouse and talk about your disputes rather than brushing them off or sweeping them under the rug. In the business world, you need to talk to your manager face-to-face and let them know if something is bothering you, or if you’re having difficulty with a project. Do NOT send them an email! Remember how we discussed how impersonal email can be? More often than not, they will understand your concern. So, the next time you need to request a day off from work, talk with your manger first and then put it on the calendar ;).
I’d like to reiterate that I do not claim to be an expert on communication. I have a degree in Computer Forensics, not human behavior and interaction (although I have taken a psychology course here and there). I work on communicating with others everyday as I have recognized it as a character flaw. But, everyday is there for self-improvement and things can only get better from here. The only way to actively get better at something such as this is to recognize where the gap may be, allowing yourself to work towards more meaningful and genuine relationships.
Thanks for reading! I hope you learned a thing or two.