Sometimes what we didn’t know is not because we weren’t told or that it wasn’t in front of us. Sometimes it is because we were not paying attention. How often have we looked up to find the “listener” distracted or on their phone. How often have WE been that “listener”? We’ve missed the body language, eye contact and tone. Catching the idea of what a person is sharing is not true listening and hearing.
Before I continue I need to say that most of my contact with people is via texting. I’m in no way saying “off with your head” to texting! But what I’m seeing that could be a great tool is becoming, or possibly already is, an epidemic that is hurting people more than we may realize.
For myself I always tried to shut my volume down on my phone in a meeting. Whether one on one or a group. Then I “graduated” to telling the person ahead of time I was expecting an important text or that my kids may need me so I would need to check my phone. But absolutely every time I would go to check when the chime came in, I could feel the break and loss within the conversation.
So I started changing it. I set a special tone for my family so I would only look at those! Smart!! But as much as I adore my kids, a text asking for the last bit of ice cream is not one that is urgent. Especially when my husband and I are on our date night. So the new plan is…if you absolutely need me…call me. That may cause a moment of pause and thought before asking about that last bit of ice cream.
Another guide my husband and I have followed for a while now is our texting while in meetings. Grant it we bend it sometimes but the rule is that we respect each others time and space and the people we are in meetings with to not distract each other. I’ll get the response text from him…I’m in a meeting babe :). My feelings aren’t hurt and I don’t feel ignored. He knows if its important that I’ll keep texting or actually call him. And he pays me the same respect. We respect each other in this and in turn extend respect to those in our meetings. We also show each other that we value enough of what each other is engaged in to give them space.
I’ve also started to actually use my phone as …now get this shocker…a phone! Actually physically talking to people on it! I highly recommend it!
Now does this mean I absolutely never sneak a text here and there? Haha come on now! Have there been times I’ve sent or received a text asking if things are ok? Yes! And those have helped quit a bit in realizing either myself or the other person is coming across a certain way. But will you find me having an entire text conversation during a meeting or social time? No. And if you do, it is rare and usually a serious issue involved.
But…there have been times I have slipped and just given in. Frustrated that others constantly do this, I adopt the awful mindset of “if you can’t beat them, join them”. Which of course is deserving of the response, “so if they jump off a bridge, will you?”
After entirely too many looks and conversations of hurt and frustration from people about those who do this, I am compelled to make this apology. For the times I’ve met with people or been in meetings and been on my phone unnecessarily…I am sorry.
Texting is a part of our culture now. I understand that fully. I’ve embraced it. It’s a valuable tool! Communication and information can flow so rapidly now and to masses of people! But the danger is that we are becoming less and less in engaged in the art of communication. The art of engaged listening and hearing with each other, at socials and at meetings.
Bottom line is this…is that text or text conversation worth communicating to those around us that they are unimportant or the time they are giving to be present at that social or meeting is not valuable? When they see us on our phones in those settings are those times the exception versus the rule. If I asked someone if more often than not they see me on my phone rather than engaged with those around me…what would their honest answer be? Personally, I’m not ready to ask that yet. Still a bit of work for me to do in this area.
I still have ways to go in changing my ways here. I may not be as bad as most but that is by no means a good enough standard for me. And although I’ve made and continue to make changes, I felt an apology in order.
I’m expecting this may ruffle some feathers. I’m ok with that. It’s wrong and must stop and my hope is that we can bond together in making that change. For others, I can already hear the AMENS! Thank you for your grace, accept this apology and give that gentle nudge reminding us we aren’t engaged.
Here’s to the bringing back the true art of communication!