Do we have time to talk anymore? When most of us are now communicating by social media, instant messaging, texts and email, have we lost the confidence in the art of conversation?
Our daily lives are faster and time is less available, so taking a faster route to communicate saves us time. It’s also so easy to instant message, get a response and move on. Although between this brief communication, the feeling and connectivity is being lost.
The family evening meal is a busy time too, and time to sit and ask how everyone’s day is, is becoming rare. The growing trend of not creating time to talk with each other in person or even on the phone, has the ability to effect our relationships at home, work, in business, at school or college and in our personal friendships and relationships.
With a lot of emphasis today on what we look like and not on what we say, there is a growing fear during a conversation we reveal who we really are. Thoughts and doubts arise of:
- What if I don’t know what to say?
- What if I don’t understand what they say?
- What if I they don’t like the sound of me?
- What if they don’t like what I say?
When we feel fearful we put up barriers to protect ourselves. As a result someone you are talking to can become defensive, short and sharp, argumentative, arrogant, aloof and close off the conversation by making excuses. It becomes easier not to talk.
Internal talk (self talk)
With us talking less to others we have turned up our internal talk. The self critique is at large and we have an epidemic of overthinking, over worrying, self comparisons and high levels of anxiety (leading to depression.)
The internal talk often carries on daytime into night time. This lack of sleep and tiredness leaves us with less focus, patience and time to talk.
Talking is our way to express ourselves. It’s how we share our beliefs, values, attitudes and experiences. It’s how we build rapport with new people and develop friendships and personal and professional relationships.
Talking is the one unique way we can be ourselves and this is how we really stand out from the crowd.
Making our words matter
A conversation is a two person or multi person space. We all communicate differently and have a preferred way to communicate. The biggest fail in communication is when people are not able to recognise the difference in styles; we simply talk our own language and expect everyone to just ‘get it’. Here’s a quick overview of the different representational systems:
Visual: a person who leads through sight
I can picture what you are saying and as you talk things looks much brighter.
Auditory: a person who leads through sound
I hear you, I enjoy listening to what you say and it comes across really clear.
Kineasthetic: a person who leads through feeling
I love the way you talk about things, it makes me feel much better.
Auditory/ Digital: a person you thinks through detail
I understand why you are thinking that way, and I have thought about it this way too.
Listening is key
Being able to recognise the lead style of communication with people you spend a lot of time helps improve your confidence and quality of conversation. It starts with learning to listen. We often think we are listening, instead what we are doing is listening to what we think has been said. When we stop and listen we can then process what is being said, the tone, speed, pace to how the person is breathing (fast or slow.) These are all part of us receiving the full message.
When we are surrounded by external noise – Alexa playing the latest playlist, the tv on in the other room to being surrounded in a busy cafe, we might not be able to listen as well as we need to. So when you can’t hear clearly, say so, and ask to move to somewhere quieter, with less distractions.
Time to talk
Creating time to talk is a lifeline for us all. If we are not talking we are not expressing ourselves. This month the campaign Time to Talk is being held on Thursday 7 February. It encourages us to talk with family, friends and colleagues. By opening up and talking more we can help prevent some mental health illnesses.
This month, call up a friend, meet them for a coffee and listen.