Is it just me? Am I the only one who mourns for the lost art of conversation? When is the last time you really and truly had a deep, meaningful conversation? When have you given the person beside or across from you your full and undivided attention? Is it possible that the smartphone, supposedly the greatest advance in communication in history, is actually harming our ability to hold a face-to-face conversation?
Many people have the belief that all communication is equal. Phone calls, text messages, emails, social media posts, television shows, newspaper articles, and person-to-person conversations are all communication methods. But they are not equal. Sure, they can all be used to get your message across and all can be used to create relationships. But there is something about a great heart-to-heart talk that invigorates our soul, stirs our emotions, forges a deeper bond and understanding. I know I for one often feel that I am alone in a midst of a crowd because everyone is looking at their electronics instead of making eye contact.
A couple months ago, I had the absolute privilege to visit with my 93-year-old grandmother and many aunts, uncles, and cousins for a family event. Grandma lives in a rural community with lots of relatives and family friends in the immediate area. What struck me later was how the entire extended family simply sat in the living room and talked. And on such a wide variety of topics! We reminisced about grandpa and other lost relatives. We talked about previous family gatherings. We each got to share what was going on in our lives at the moment. We talked about national news and local events. We talked about illness and homeopathic remedies. We talked recipes and who found what coupon. Eventually some folks moved to the porch with a couple buckets of green beans and they sat and chatted while pulling the strings. Not once did anyone pull out a cellphone to check Facebook. No one turned on the television or radio. People came, people left, more people came. We spent an entire afternoon into evening just being a family and friends actually talking to each other.
It was engaging. It was fun. I left feeling refreshed and relaxed. But it got me thinking: Why don’t we place a higher priority on having solid conversations in our business relationships? Why do we believe that a text message is just as good as a phone conversation? Why do we choose to email instead of setting up a time to meet for coffee?
Part of the problem I see is that many of us have bought into the myth that we are “too busy.” Yes, real 30-minute conversation does take more time and effort than typing up a 300 word email. But it is time well-spent.
Another myth many seem to embrace is the notion that they will “miss” something vitally important if they are not connected to their electronic appendage at all times. Yes, the world moves fast, but in my experience, very few things actually need a response in the next two minutes. Waiting an hour to respond is fine.
So here’s your challenge for today. Find someone and have an actual conversation with them. Put your phone away, sign-off of Facebook and Twitter and have a good talk. It doesn’t matter what you talk about. Just talk. Look them in the eye, smile, laugh, enjoy the person you are with. Be in the moment with them. Let’s regain the art of conversation.