Talking to Each Other

Talking to Each Other

For years, I have been concerned about the diminishment of conversations in our lives. It began with the answering machine, moved onto emails, and now text. People are not talking to each other much anymore. And I believe it is having an impact on our relationships.

When we speak in person, we hear the words and voice, and we see the person. Over time, we learn about body language. We note the person’s face, the expression of feeling. We note the person’s voice, the expression of feeling. We note the person’s body language, the expression of feelings. Over time, we may not be conscious of it, but we learn how to read a person’s cues, voice, expression and body. Even a very young child can tell the difference in a parent’s mood, just by being around them.

With an answering machine, our voice is heard. That helps the listener understand the tone of our message. Also, we are communicating our message the way we mean it, and it is not solely the interpretation of the listener. However, there is no interaction between the speaker and the listener and so the message is not clarified. We are still not seeing the person, thus missing these cues.

With email and text, it is just the written word, not a voice or body language. The message is open to interpretation. Often the message is not accessed quickly, so that time passes without exchange. All the reader knows is what I wrote; there is no tone, no body cues, or opportunity to immediately get clarification.

We can be misunderstood. We cannot get a response.

It is not unusual for a client to want to share a text with me during a session. It may be a meaningful message they received, or how they responded to someone. Often this is done because there is an intense feeling involved. In most cases, they still have not spoken with the person, thus feedback has not occurred. When questioned, the person will admit it felt safer to write the message rather than talk to the person.

It is not always easy to talk to someone. We are afraid of expressing feelings or don’t know how to express ourselves. This is not unusual, but working on it helps. To escape to the safety of distance, not talking directly, we fail to learn how to do it. Some communication is not easy, but there is value in having the actual interaction with the listener.

As human beings, we have the skill of communicating with each other through language. We connect. We care. We confront. We question. Most importantly, we connect with each other directly.

One client calls her family for dinner by text. They are all in the house at the same time.