“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”
– Epictetus

What a challenging subject to write on – and what an important conversation to be had. Communication is nearly everything. Communication is the problem and the solution. Communication is how we mourn and how we heal.

There’s an interesting trend across much of the “developed” world. More and more, people spend their time connected to devices rather than people. So many of us spend so much time immersed in the content displayed on tiny screens that we miss the entirety of the world around us. We also entirely miss the people which inhabit it. Many of them miss us, too…

Computers and the Internet have changed our lives and our world forever. An apocalyptic event notwithstanding, there’s simply no going back. Many pine for the simplicity of a world gone by, but we must accept things as they are now or spend our lives unsatisfied. If there has been only one great casualty of our modern way (and I assure you there have been more), it is the depreciation of our ability to communicate and empathize. My experience has been that much of the world’s sorrows stem from an inability of people to communicate with one another.

I believe communication is a skill – it’s an ability which can be honed. Much like no one is born with an innate ability to ride a bicycle, so also must we learn how to interpret and understand each other. Studies have consistently shown that the greater percentage of a conversation lies in the non-verbal cues. That is, it’s not what’s being said but how it’s being said. Most (if not all) people communicate more with their movements and gestures than with the words they choose. So then, it’s no surprise that in an era where communication predominately takes place in written form, we are losing our ability to relate and interact with others.

I wouldn’t dare to suggest that the solution is complete technological abstinence. In many countries, that would exclude you from nearly any career opportunity or real chance at success. What I am positing, however, is that perhaps there would be value in spending time every day to stow away the digital devices and interact with someone in person. Consider making it your goal today to simply say “Hello” to someone you don’t know and watch their response. Observe other people having conversations and gather as much as you can from their gestures and tone. And, if you’re really bold, try striking up a conversation with someone you’ve never met.

While you’re at it: remember that the value of communication is in what you hear more than what you say. When you have the opportunity, take the chance to let your conversations be about someone other than yourself.There are so many amazing stories being lived every day, but so many of us are so compelled to the drama of our own selves that we miss the forest for the tree.

If I can emphasize anything to whomever might read this, it’s this: be good to your fellow man; try to understand him rather than judge him. Listen when others speak and don’t lose perspective of the world that exists outside of you.

Thank you for your time.


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