Friday, September 6, 2013

A Little Less Talk? .... Not So Fast

It seems that life constantly encourages a little less talk and a lot more action. In fairness, I often tend to agree. I don't just want people to just tell me things, I want them to show me. For instance, someone saying "I'm here for you" means nothing if when you need them, they're nowhere to be found or you have to make all the effort to reach out. So I'm a total proponent of the actions revealing what people actually mean.

Unfortunately, though, all the focus on action seems to provide people a perfect excuse for lack of communication. People base so much on action that it seems we've lost the ability to have a conversation. I'm not talking about "how's the weather", but more those types of important conversations that life requires. Talking about how one feels, talking about important topics involved in the situation, whether it be business, personal, or interpersonal. It can even be discussing plans for the week or ideas about a new project you want to start.

To clarify, conversations, by my definition, are two-way discussions in which all people involved are actively listening and speaking. One person unloading on another, for instance, is not a conversation. That's someone stating a fight, or at the least blame dumping, or name calling, or taking their bad day out on someone. But it's not a conversation. If you aren't truly interested and willing to take into account what the other person has to say, it's a not a conversation. Also, I'm using the word talking liberally here. It can be done in writing, in some sort of electronic communication, as long as it's a back and forth. Though the more important the topic, the more important to have a spoken, and if possible in person, discussion, in my book.

So what's led to this lack of talk? It could be numerous things. For one, we as a society put more merit on the ability to "be tough" than we do on discussing things like emotions and feelings, and we seem to think that those who are emotional aren't strong. Which, for the record, is completely false. There'll be another blog about that. Secondly, I think there's a lot of apathy.  People don't want to "waste time" having long conversations when they can more easily update their Facebook status or tweet it out. In addition, as I mentioned, we've so emphasized action that it seems words don't count anymore. But sometimes, people just like to hear something. For instance, if someone's important to you or you appreciate something they've done, tell them.  While actions are critical, the bottom line is, people don't want there to be room for mis-interpretation. They want to hear it from you. And yet people pass the buck, putting the blame on the person who didn't interpret their actions correctly, instead of taking the responsibility themselves for not conveying verbally what they meant.

Why all this talk about communication? Quite frankly, we can't afford to not communicate. It's the cornerstone of all types of relationships, from colleagues to friends, family, and significant others. Without it, we risk misunderstanding and misinterpretation, frustrations, fights, and even serious rifts or falling outs that could have been prevented had we only actually communicated. Because truly, no issues can ever be fully solved if we don't listen enough to know what's really going on, or communicate enough to express it in the first place. So yes, it's very important to back up your words with your actions. But remember, there have to be words to back up in the first place.

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