If you’re reading this and someone’s sitting across from you, stop. I don’t want your attention that badly.
See, thanks to the magic of technology, many of us have gotten pretty shitty at communicating face to face. I’ll admit, I’m as guilty as anyone for a few of the offenses mentioned below. But if we don’t do something about it, we won’t have to worry about republicans, democrats, or the robots taking over. We’ll be too busy looking at our devices to notice.
I’m certainly not the first person to preach about this. There are books on it, podcasts, and, ironically, stories posted on social media about every twenty minutes.
So how can you become a better communicator? Here are five suggestions. Try them the next time you meet someone for lunch. Hell, just try one! You might be surprised at the result.
1-Put your phone down. Of all the items on this list, this one will have the most dramatic impact. Sure, there are exceptions, like when the school calls to tell you your kid just shit in someone’s lunchbox, but most of the time your phone will be fine without your constant caresses.Scroll, scroll, scroll. Like. Swipe right. What message does it send your breakfast buddy when you’re glued to the screen? “You’re not very interesting or important to me. I’m bored and I’d rather be somewhere else.” What if the person you’re sitting with is your child? We need to stop this. Now.
2-Shut your pie hole. You‘ll never learn anything new if you’re always doing the talking, because you can only say things you already know. Surely that’s on a cat poster somewhere. I’m too tired to look up the origins of the word “conversation,” but I’d bet it didn’t come from the words monologue, lecture, or acceptance speech.3-Make eye contact. Not the creepy kind, but the “I’m listening to you” kind. I know the weirdo at table three is interesting or you’re trying to get a good look at that girl’s wicked-cool boots, but the message can be interpreted as “You’re not worthy of my attention.”
4-Think first, speak second. This is easy when you’re truly listening, because it takes a few seconds to process what you’ve heard. But when you’re doing a half-ass job of hearing them, you’re more likely to cut them off, often with something completely unrelated. I’ve done it, and boy did I feel dumb when I did.
5-Me, me, me…not you…me,me. “How’s the chemo going.” Well it’s no picnic but… “OMG, I forgot to show you my new purse!”
Don’t be that asshole.
Ask questions. Talk with people. Talk to people. Don’t talk at them. If you want to be the only one with a microphone, start a damned podcast. I bet you all of Mark Zuckerberg’s money that you won’t get as much love as you think.
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