I just finished reading an article from Daniel Goleman called The Chemistry of Connection. I agreed with the points made yet was also confronted by them.
The author promotes more ‘human moments’ and less ‘digital moments’ if we want to have better interactions and communication. I can sense you nodding in agreement and saying well that’s obvious. Yes it is obvious, I would go as far as saying it’s logical, yet we are most probably all guilty of at times avoiding the ‘human moment’ and using ‘digital moments’ instead.
Can you think of a time when you have either sent an email or received one from someone which has led to more questions than answers? How did you deal with that situation? Chances are you sent an email back asking for clarification or perhaps you simply decided you knew best and you dismissed the email all together. Either of these approaches have cause for worry. You see humans, you & I, we need more queues than merely words to fully understand a situation. 80% of listening is visual so without the visual our brains fill in the gaps, those gaps are normally filled by referring back to similar situations (knowledge), using our unconscious bias (to test yours click here) and subject to the mood we are in (emotions). Getting face to face may not always be a readily available option, if not then pick up the phone, hearing the person’s voice, their tone, their energy levels giving them an opportunity to hear your questions rather than read and interpret them using their our belief values will help clarify things a lot faster. At no point am I saying email can be done away with, it has its place and is a useful tool. Where it fails us is when there is ambiguity in receiving the delivered message.
Have you ever been surprised with how someone has reacted to an email you sent? Language, sentence structure, capitalisation and vocabulary are all factors which can attribute to someone misunderstanding an emailed message. Especially when you layer those with the emotional state of the person receiving the message. Can you think of a time an email made you feel tense before you even read the message? This happens when you have an emotional connection to the subject and or the sender. When you are preparing yourself for the worst before it has even happened. When we are in this state of mind, even if the message is positive, we will read it as negative, harmful or hurtful. If you find yourself reacting like that, then stop and do not read the message, go away and do something which helps calm your mind. This could be a quick walk, meditation, recanting your power chant, anything that helps get your mind into a calmer state. Once there, then go and read the email.
There are even times when people living in the same house revert to text messaging instead of talking. From my observations I think people choose digital over human moments because they lack the confidence to speak with people about how they feel. The more we avoid human moments the greater this eventually turns into a fear. One we will go to great lengths to avoid. In these situations the individual’s will happily discuss the situation with others, normally in the guise of seeking advice on what to do and sometimes in search of someone who will lend a supportive ear. When this happens the individuals are using their personal interpretation to determine how the other person is thinking and what their intent was. This is dangerous territory and can result in miscommunication at epic levels. Also over time if not faced these small moments accumulate to become large and only require the tiniest event to occur to turn it into a non-recoverable cataclysmic event!
The solution more human moments – talk to each other, face that fear, get yourself in a calm state of mind before doing so, turn off any distractions (i.e. the TV), give the person talking your attention. This will give you the opportunity to hear their words, be conscious of when your mind starts answering, defending, completing their sentences as these are signs you are NO longer listening. When this happens, and it will we are human after all and active listening is a trained skill, refocus on the person speaking, if you think you have missed something they said then ask them to repeat it, feel free to admit you were momentarily distracted, in my experience people prefer that honesty to you ‘filling in the gaps’ and misinterpreting their message all together.