There are so many different ways in which we communicate with one another. We have various forms of written communication. Verbal communication encompasses not only the words we choose to use but also the tone or inflection of our voice and how well we listen to others. Body language often speaks louder than anything we are saying. Even affection, gifts, and kind gestures can be considered forms of communication. So much of how we think about ourselves and others and how we connect and interact with one another depends on all of these forms of communication, so it is unfortunate that, in my experience, not enough people pay attention to how often and how well they communicate.
Social media and texting have both had a significant impact on communication. Gone are the days where people sent each other lengthy, hand-written letters to catch each other up on the last chunk of time in their life. I recently went through boxes of cards, letters, and other mementos that I had saved going back as far as high school. I could tell when each of my friends and family members started sending emails, because I stopped getting hand-written letters from them. Even lengthy phone calls and spending face-to-face time are getting more scarce. It is considered out of the ordinary for young people to call each other rather than text, email, or chat through social media. Our communication may be more frequent and instantaneous than it used to be, and we may be keeping in touch with more people thanks to social media, but a lot of it is more superficial. The way I see it, we are sharing little snippets of our lives and connecting less on a deeper level.
People also have a whole variety of different needs and expectations about how much and who should take the lead with respect to communication. This may be partly due to how we were raised and in which generation we belong to, and partly due to the various forms of communication available to us. There are so many more options now, which allows for more preferences. My mother-in-law was raised with the expectation that it was the kids’ responsibility to call home to the parents after they were no longer living at home. She expects the same of her kids, so she has rarely called just to check in and see how we’re doing. My father doesn’t seem to need a whole lot of contact with other people, so he is not one to pick up a phone either. My kids have other grandparents who do initiate regular contact and they don’t understand why these grandparents don’t do this as well. I honestly think it’s a little selfish to rely on other people to keep in touch with you. And it can have adverse affects on other people when you don’t.
Communication never works well when it is one-sided, whether it is one person trying to monopolize a conversation or one person who is always initiating contact. I have lost touch with numerous people over the years because I was the one who was always writing or calling, and I eventually stopped because it didn’t seem like that person was interested in keeping in touch. Similarly, I lose interest in talking with people who never want to listen. I really wish more people would see the value of good communication skills (written, verbal, or otherwise) and the importance of making the effort to keep in touch with each other in general.
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