Among all species only human beings handle an advanced type of language through which they communicate with each other in various modes such as talking, writing etc. This ability to handle a language and communicate across various platforms made man rule over all other species. In this age of extreme communication, one question to ask is how much real and enriching conversation happen among us . How important is talking to each other and how it helps us to build lasting relationships, heal emotional wounds, create better workplaces and finally help us to learn.
Life minus its relationships can be an extremely sad thing. Being social animals, we desire the affection and approval of everyone around us and are often willing to pawn everything else for that. No matter how rich and powerful we are, life can be hell if we have none to share our joys and sorrows. That’s why perhaps Aristotle said, “whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” Every relationship needs an effort to build and sincere and meaningful conversation between the parties in the relationship is one of the most crucial elements in sustaining it. If understanding each other is critical in every relationship, few things help in that as effective communication. Most often what we desire from others is that they should understand us. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that more than love, we seek understanding.
Today when we mention the word communication, the first thing which comes to our minds is social media. It has opened a host of choices for people to interact with each other. We remain connected more than anytime in the past. We exchange hundreds of messages and images every day. However, the point is how much do we communicate personally with people around? How much you reach out to your partner and other dear ones? It will be interesting to recall a comment by Pope Francis from one of his Apostolic Exhortation, titled Love in the Family,( Amoris Laetitia) ” “Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard, to feel that someone has acknowledged their pain, their disappointment, their fear, their anger, their hopes and their dreams. How often we hear complaints like: “He does not listen to me “. Even if we have everything in life if we do not have quality time with our dear ones it needs serious introspection. Sometimes all that our elderly people need is someone to talk to. We seldom realise the power of a sincere conversation in healing our broken relationships. I know a brother and sister. For some silly reasons, they did not talk for around 20 years. When the brother became sick and was on his death bed, the sister felt that she should go and meet him. She went to his home, they spoke for a long time and after a couple of weeks, he died. I was wondering what would have happened if they had not waited this long just to talk to each other.
Social media played a major role in shifting the focus of communication from an individual mode to a group mode. While it is a fact that social media has created a huge space for personal messaging it also opened an exciting world of communication revolving around various groups. This gives us the feeling that we converse with hundreds of people every day. However, in reality, we may not be enriching our personal lives with those chats in various closed groups. Think about the numerous WhatsApp groups in which we are members. We chat a lot, send birthday greetings and type greetings on festivals. But how much do we reach out to each other personally? Recall the last time you called some of your personal friends and talked for a while. Do we enquire about them and try to understand their struggles, needs and anxieties? The fact is that most people open up only when we approach them personally. Next time instead of sending a happy birthday message to your friend, try to call that person and wish. It may be a different experience altogether.
Creating better workplaces
Outside our homes, we spend the maximum time at our workplaces. Perhaps all workplaces can be divided into two. Places where effective communication happens and places it does not. Whether interacting with your bosses or subordinates, the words exchanged can make all the difference. Do you have a boss who understands and listens to you? Does he know a few of your struggles too along with your job responsibilities? When you have all the power it is easy to command. But it takes a huge heart to understand your staff and make them work for you. Sometimes it takes all the courage to communicate a no to your boss who asks the impossible. Motivation and encouragement are commonly used words. We rarely think much about them and underrate their value. Whenever your subordinate does something well, give him/her a word of praise and you will see miracles. Have you given the freedom to your subordinates to share their difficulties and anxieties with you ?. A culture of fearless communication may be the first step in building a great organization. Sometimes the offices which use written communication extensively underrate the value of a direct personal talk. Every day we come across numerous examples where one angry email triggers an avalanche of mails which could have been avoided with a one to one personal interaction.
Conversation as a learning tool
Some people say that the first known conversationalist was the Greek philosopher Socrates. He had a brilliant idea. He suggested that if two unsure individuals were put together, they could discover the truth which they could not do individually. They can question each other, shed their prejudices, seek out agreements and progress step by step. All of us understand the enormous value of dialogue to learn better and to solve disputes. Conversation begins with the assumption that there is equality among the partners and each one is there to talk and listen at the same time. It is not an imposition of one’s opinion on others but ironing out differences. We know that most social media exchanges do not reach the level of a genuine conversation these days. We detest an opposing view and anyone who questions us. There is an increasing tendency for social media platforms to become echo chambers of people sharing the same views and prejudices.
Freud wrote about the magical power of words. He told, “they can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.” That’s it. When we start talking to each other more often we will realise the incredible power of words to enrich our relationships. Learn conversation skills and it will widen your horizon. Messaging across social media platforms has revolutionized the way we communicate. However, what talking and listening can do in our lives is incredible.