I believe in communication.
This belief was cemented last Sunday in church. At the beginning of the meeting, members of the congregation were asked to silence their cell phones and to please refrain from sending text messages during the meeting. I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s pretty bad! People are so obsessed that they can’t even quit texting during church!” When I go to class the professor is invariably interrupted with at least one goofy ring tone. When I walk across campus or down the street I am confronted by dozens of people who are on cell phones, caught up in their conversations and ignoring those who are right there in front of them.
Then I thought about my own life. With dozens of commitments and extracurricular activities it was easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. I realized I hardly spent time talking to my own family. What happened to good old-fashioned communication? How much time am I spending with e-mail, instant messaging, or on the phone instead of sitting down with a person and really listening to them? These methods of communication can be good, but they don’t replace the relationship itself. I’ve found that taking the time to communicate effectively promotes understanding and helps you to really get to know a person. Details like gestures and body language provided from face-to-face conversation supply an element that really strengthens relationships.
I once knew an elderly gentleman who lived on his own. Every once in a while I would stop by his house to say hello. His clothes were wrinkled and usually covered in cat hair, because his cat was his best companion. He had that old person smell and couldn’t hear very well, but always greeted me with a sweet smile. He would love to sit and show me pictures and tell me stories. My visits never took long, but they sure brightened up his day. I learned so much more about him by being there than I ever would have through a phone call.
Besides my family, how many other wonderful people do I encounter each day that I don’t say hello to or try to get to know? How many people do I safely communicate with behind the protection and distance of an instant or text message instead of face-to-face?
I believe in effectively communicating with people. Each person I meet has had unique experiences and a different perspective that can teach me something new–if only I take the time to communicate. The most unlikely candidate can be the one to tell me the things I most need to hear. True communication–old-fashioned, time-consuming, face-to-face talking–is the way to develop deep, meaningful, and lasting relationships.
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