Have we lost the art of how to speak to each other?
15th October 2015
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Recognise the funny looking boxes above. Those things called phones. Before our smart phones could do pretty much everything but tie our laces. Do you remember when we used to speak to each other just face to face or using a phone call? Have we progressed in so many ways, yet simply lost the art of how to speak to each other without the medium of technology?

Now I will admit, I am addicted to my phone. Emails, texts, social networking, surfing, I do it all. In fact I was running on the treadmill earlier thinking about this blog idea in my head. I actually stopped, wiped away the sweat and typed a few bullet points into a memo so I didn’t forget. This may be a technology issue, or that I am a workaholic and it’s pretty helpful to capture my ideas quickly, but it’s fundamentally slightly crazy. In my earlier days I used to be both a competitive swimmer and pretty good on the netball court, both in youth and my early work life. What I did in the gym with my phone is the equivalent of me stopping mid swim race, getting out the pool, drying my hands and checking a text. Or saying excuse me umpire could you just call a short break in the match, I need to check my emails. Back then breathing was more of a focus as was winning and the phone was more similar size and weight to the brick I used to throw into the bottom of the pool for the children I was teaching to collect, but still, Smart phone, using it stupidly springs to mind.

Smart phones are amazing, my business needs technology and I use it to the full, but is there a compromise here, have we lost the art of face to face communication? I think we can all be guilty of texting or emailing when it would be better to make a call or speak face to face.

 Below are three rules that may just help reinvigorate the art of the spoken word.

Be mindful of who you are with

We have all gained a nasty habit of being with people whilst talking to or reading about others. I have carried out one to one training and had their phones going crazy as people are so in demand. I have been to dinner with people who tag me into a location telling everyone else they are having dinner with me. Just have dinner with me, talk to me, engage with me, and don’t tell everyone else you are with me whilst not talking to me. Of course the fact I know they have tagged me makes me just as bad!

In business, people have meetings with one person or group while checking emails from another person on the phone. Would you in a meeting start talking to one person, turn your back on them mid conversation and talk to another. Probably not but we do this with phones.

First rule, be with the people you are physically with, engage, speak, listen and focus and stop worrying about the rest of the world for a while.

Go phoneless

Now believe me, going phoneless is, as a 37 year old women with two children, about as appealing as going without make up! I run a business, a service business. People need me, all the time.  Or do they? Do they need me on a Sunday afternoon? Do they need me in the gym? Or am I just addicted to knowing what is going on in the world?

Try it, go phoneless for short periods. Engage with other humans. Speak, laugh, enjoy. Smile and use real words with tone and emphasis without the use of an emoticon. Laugh for real without LOL. Speak three full sentences in a row to another human, all together, without symbols. OMG# are you kidding# LOL# what do you mean # living without text# how will I cope# end of the world#.

There are points to be made in the world, social and business that are longer than 140 characters. Conversations with responses that involve emotions, real facial emotions, not smiley faces. Conversations that make you think and behave and respond accordingly with honesty.

Second rule, live a little without the phone. Try it. # I dare you #

Remember to use face to face conversations

If you would not say it face to face, think very carefully about sending it via text or email or posting it as a status for the world. Text or emails are firstly a filter to emotion, secondly a barrier to hide behind. If you write an email sounding off then read it back, take some time, and get someone else to read it before you send. If you would not say it face to face, don’t email it.

Emails can be misread. Consider carefully your tone. I have carried out training on this and like to point out how things can be read. Consider the same words as an email:

Can you please send me the final figures so I can complete the month end as I really need to do the month end now.

Seemingly innocent now put some context behind this and read with a different tone. This is an email that has been sent many times and the person is very direct.

Can you plllleeaassee (if I add please it makes me sound polite despite the direct nature of my email) send me the final figures so I can complete the month end (as I do every month and if I have to ask you again I may ram the figures down your throat because I am sick of chasing you and have a million other things to do).

Emails whether they mean to be or not can be misread and misunderstood as can texts. Think about when face to face communication is more appropriate, a better use of time or will be received more successfully and use it.

Third rule, where you have the ability to speak face to face, use it.

I shall be trying to engage these rules. I shall try not to check my blog readers too many times a day, I will hope that those that want to read just find it. I will not check my emails whilst running, I will be at the park, not tell people I am at the park or at dinner with friends and I will turn off the phone in meetings. Finally I shall speak, loud and clear and watch and enjoy the response, on others faces, their real faces J

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Cherry A

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