Connection and communication has never been easier? Or has it?

When was the last time you listened to another person? I mean truly listened with nothing on your mind? Without being ready to jump in with your next thought or opinion? Without judging, agreeing, or disagreeing? Or being ready or eager to interrupt?

It seems listening, and I mean deep listening, may be an underrated or even perhaps, a lost art. I believe we are hungry to be listened to. Hence some of the reason for the boom in popularity of working with a coach. Yes, sometimes people come to me simply because to the best of my ability in the moment, I listen with nothing on my mind. They can feel my listening. This becomes a catalyst for them to hearing their own wisdom.

When I am with clients, it is my job to listen. When I am with others, I notice that my listening attention can lapse into listening more to what’s in my own head than what the other person is saying. Sometimes I am all too ready and eager to jump in with my own opinion. Perhaps you can relate.

Looking further at communication, I’ve been pondering our reliance on text messaging. Texts are often expected and may be a length that used to be reserved for emails. I do this myself. Sometimes it may seem necessary, but not always. Phone calls have become old school.

There’s a big issue with heavily relying on text messages as a form of communication.

Words, themselves (written or spoken) carry only 7% of the message in communication!! That’s right 7%. Tone and body language make up the rest totaling 93%. This means that because we all live in separate realities, when we are reading a text or email, we put our own tone into it.

There is a pretty good chance the tone we add in our minds may not be the intended tone of the sender. Depending on the mood or state of mind we are in or the most recent thoughts we may have had about the person we are texting, we might hear a tone that was not actually sent. A tone we would not have heard if we were talking on the phone or face to face. It may skew the communication negative or positive or just be plain wrong.

We may use electronics as a way of getting around face to face communication and connection. Hiding behind our phones, computers and tablets allows us to avoid being vulnerable. With this in mind, connecting electronically may actually disconnect us.

We may fear discomfort, forgetting about our human superpower of resilience, our ability to get over it. In fact, there may be a potentially deeper connection found on the other side of discomfort.

Obviously, texting allows for many quick and easy communications. A fast “running late, be there soon” or a quick question makes sense in a text. Sometimes a phone call is not possible and a longer, detailed text is a great way to get an important message to someone. Personally, I love the early morning text pings containing a photo or video of my baby grandson.

Last week, I texted my friend who just had heart surgery. “Just checking in and how are you doing?” She told me she was ok and a few other things. Something felt so inadequate about this communication.

I realized I longed to hear her voice so I called her. We spoke for almost an hour. The lovely meandering and the richness of that conversation could never have taken place within a text message.

Craving deeper connection, I have decided for myself I will risk “bothering” people and make more phone calls. And I will keep coming back to the lost art of listening with nothing on my mind.

gayle nobel