I was out. My husband sent me a message asking me when I was coming home. Usually, I am not too fond of this type of question. When I come – that’s when, I tell him in my thoughts. Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, I came back home. He was eager to share something with me. “I have this idea, you know,” he told me, but my daughter immediately interrupted us. She was hungry, and after that, sleepy, so we both fell asleep. This morning I reminded my husband about his idea. He wanted to sit down and talk peacefully. I was really curious to hear his idea, but messages began to pile up on my phone and my computer; the same message comes with two beeps, one for every device. My thoughts were side-tracked. A small dilemma, to turn off the notification sound or check the messages. I decided to turn off notifications for new messages. I turned to my husband, determined that nothing would distract me now. He didn’t say a word. “Continue,” I encouraged him. He already had a video ready, and we were supposed to watch it together to see how the idea started. At that moment my phone rang. I chose to answer. I always think to myself, what if it’s something important? And the cycle starts. First, we talked, then a request followed for me to check on some information, then I continued to call other people and, in the end, I had to go out.
I got ready, and before leaving, I said to him: “What was it that we were supposed to look at?” “Too much noise in our communication,” he said, and he fell silent. In those few seconds of quietness, the expression on his face, his tight lips, the look in his eyes, the lowered shoulders and the deep exhalation were stronger than the loudest scream. Non-verbal communication is often louder than the words themselves. People talk with their body language without even consciously thinking of it. For a moment, I saw his side of the story. How’s he trying to share with me something very important, obviously. So many distractions obstruct our effective communication, like giving priority to telephone calls, and not only once. My constant tapping on the phone or the laptop is a real physical barrier that stands between us and is becoming a serious problem in our active communication. Proper focus on another individual’s thoughts is completely gone. When the message from the sender arrives, it loses its power along the way somewhere between the various beeps and tapping on digital devices, so it reaches its destination, i.e. me, the recipient unable to trigger an appropriate response. This could be quite frustrating for the sender!
Active listening is essential to interpersonal communication, but today, truth to be told, it has become a real rarity. I can find a million excuses for my, at least said, rudeness, but the fact is that in order to have productive and fruitful communication, it is necessary not only to listen to other people’s words, i.e. the content of the message, but also to be able to read between the lines, recognize the condition that person is in, how he feels and respond appropriately to those feelings. Then the sender of the message will know that his feelings are recognized and validated. It would be enough just to repeat other people’s words in our own way to make the other person feel heard and seen. Ultimately, we need to help each other create an environment where everyone will be given a voice to speak what they want. Acquiring good listening skills is probably one of the hardest aspects of our everyday communication, especially in this hectic world of continual distractions coming from our electronic devices, our complex lives and all the complex emotions we have. It is not easy to focus and listen to what’s being said. That is why a lot of information can be lost along the way, but especially very important people.
Finally, I stopped, took off my coat and sat down to talk. For real this time.