Our normally efficient high-speed internet was not working. We had been away from home for two months and counted on this means of communication to stay in touch with family. It was also necessary for keeping up-to-date with other commitments in our lives.
Our apartment in Mexico had a landline so we hadn’t bothered to get a Mexican cell phone. Unfortunately, the landline was connected to the internet. The result was a breakdown in all but face-to-face communication.
Our service was down for over a week, back up for a few days and then down again. No one else in the building had this problem. To say we were frustrated would be a gross understatement.
On the plus side, in the evening my husband and I talked or played cards instead of surfing the internet or watching Netflix. We hadn’t realized how much time was spent online until we were forced offline.
I know checking my email and social media can be addictive and have been working hard at curtailing this habit. It is easy to get caught up in the virtual world, with ‘friends’ I don’t even know. This comes at the expense of those I want close relationships with. There is something drastically wrong with this picture.
Emails and texting are convenient and often necessary. Spending hours online scrolling through Pinterest or Facebook leave me with little to show for my time. In order to create more of what I want in my life, I need to focus on personal interaction.
I find it ironic that it took an online communication breakdown to help prevent a breakdown in personal communication.
I remember when my children were small and I wanted to tell them something important. They’d be focused on other things and not paying attention. In order to have them hear me, I’d start by saying, “Look at me.” Once I had their visual attention they could hear me much better.
Come to think of it, this is still the case in attempting to communicate with anyone distracted by television, cell phones or other electronics. They will respond as if they know what I said but the message is forgotten as soon as I walk away.
It is up to me to ensure my words are heard and understood. I can’t assume this is the case if I haven’t confirmed it.
An example of this came in a conversation in which one man said, “I always listen; I just don’t always hear.” Isn’t that interesting? He would listen to what was said, but if he didn’t think the subject matter was of importance to him, didn’t actually take it in. He could be looking directly at the person speaking and still not be paying attention.
I confess to occasionally allowing my mind to wander when someone is speaking to me. Sometimes I’m formulating a response to them and others I’m going through a mental to-do list. When either of these happens I am not giving the conversation the undivided attention it deserves. It takes a conscious effort to be a good listener.
It’s no accident that the words listen and silent are made up of the same six letters. In order to really listen and hear what is being said, I need to be silent. Not just vocally, but also to silence and focus my mind. Only then will I truly hear you.
My back went up immediately when I read the email. Here was the judgment I’d been expecting since being vulnerable and admitting my problem.
I’d been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support and encouragement I’d received. Now, this one negative came along and was having a much bigger effect on me than it should. I was upset with myself and the person who sent the message.
Upon reading the email again, I discovered the comment made was neither negative nor positive. It was simply a neutral statement. Since this was a sensitive topic for me my interpretation was negative and I took offense.
The fact is only 7% of communication is the words. I was not getting the 38% that is made up of the tone of voice, inflection and volume. Also missing was the 55% that facial expression and body language represent.
When I read something I need to take into consideration how I’m feeling at the time. My emotions can change the tone of what I read and turn an innocent statement into something offensive.
The same hold true with my communication with others. Sometimes, even with more than the 7%, my intentions are misunderstood. I need to take responsibility for my words and also for how I react to those directed to me.
How about you? Do you also get caught up in the words and your emotions and forget the 7% rule?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
“Am I being mean?” I asked. The response I received was, “No, it’s just another form of communication.”
You see, the woman in front of me in the aquafit class kept backing up. There was no room for me to move without crowding someone else. I was sure it wasn’t intentional and knew I’d been guilty of the same thing on occasion.
Two of us had gently pointed out her roaming and it seemed rude to keep asking her to move. Instead, I chose a non-verbal method of communication. I splashed more as she got too close! This proved to be effective at moving her forward again.
It is said that only 7% of our communication is verbal. I started looking for other examples of this.
On the far side of the pool, two young children danced with abandon to the music playing in the facility. It was easy to tell they were happy and carefree.
Have you ever taken one look at a friend and known there was something wrong? I’d just experienced that. I looked at someone, saw great sadness and gave him a hug. Non-verbally he had let me know he was hurting and I let him know I cared.
We speak with our eyes, our facial expressions and our body movements. My tone of voice can also convey a meaning quite opposite to my words.
If I can read this in others, they must be able to do the same when looking at me. Knowing this, I wonder; is my non-verbal communication keeping people from getting too close or drawing them near?