It’s funny that as technology has advanced and we have so many means to communicate, we still miss connecting, hearing and communicating effectively with others. It’s almost as though we’ve forgotten in some ways how to be human!

As we’ve become more complex, we’ve become avoiders of simple conversation. For example, we send emails back and forth and believe this is efficient conversation. Or, we often mistakenly believe that the email recipient has the same interpretation of our words as we intended.

Our communication has become more fragmented. We’ve become increasingly isolated from one another as we move ever faster, at frantic speeds. We seek consolidation in everything, but fail to find it in one another. We’ve learned to embrace the new instead of noticing what we already have. Thus we’ve learned to choose fear and have forgotten the true source of wellness.

Many of us refuse to see that fear keeps us apart. Unfortunately, we all have lists of people whom we fear. If we tried to communicate with them, it often creates anger within us and we shut down what might be possible to learn from that person. We need to be able to talk to those we’ve named our “enemy.” We need to stop manufacturing interpretations that keep us separated. We need to stop our contradictive behaviour—we say we’re a team and then we gossip about a colleague. Or, we say we’re open-minded and then we judge someone for their appearance.

If we start talking about what we care about, stop blaming, stop ignoring one another and stop engaging in fear-filled gossip—well, what might we discover? We can only change and connect if we start listening to one another. We need to encourage simple, honest conversation in which there’s no arbitration or debate, in which each of us has a chance to speak truly and feel fully heard.

The truth of accomplishing this type of simple conversation is that it takes time. We may need to practice in order to relearn our speaking and listening skills. We need to slow down our minds and pay attention to the content that’s being conveyed.We need to hear one another without judgment so that the fragmentation and isolation can stop.

Awareness, truth and accountability start within us. Everything exists because of our relationship to it, for nothing exists in isolation. The best relationships are built on simple, honest conversation.

For more articles on listening and speaking, visit our communication section

Christine M. West, MS, is the owner of The Business MD, a change management firm that helps individuals and organizations deal with and excel in the continual changes they face. Reposted with kind permission from Alaska Wellness.

image: IntelFreePress (Creative Commons BY-SA)