Communication Skills 101
Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout a new way of talkin’
Do you want to lose your mind?
Walk right in, sit right down, daddy let your mind roll on.
When I looked up the lyrics I realized it’s “everybody’s talking about a new way of walking.” I’ve been singing it wrong for years. One might wonder why I’ve been singing it at all! What brings it to my mind anew is this new way of talking. Yes, it’s making me lose my mind.
I was raised not to be a butinsky. Don’t interrupt. Wait for your turn to speak. Don’t raise your voice to be heard. Don’t butt in. Listen, learn, then respond.
Nowadays no one is being heard because everyone is talking. All at the same time! Piling on, louder, more disruptive. I see it everywhere I go. I’m not talking about the kids, this isn’t generational. Everyone interrupts.
When writing we show that interrupt with a long dash--
Without an ending punctuation the reader knows the speaker has been interrupted. And the speaker stops talking. But in reality it’s much noisier and more disruptive than a dash.
I hear it on sports talk radio. Each talking head thinks his opinion is the most important, so pile on. His opinion doesn’t really matter, though, because who can decipher it? They all talk at once from the pile. Every TV talk show, pile on. Interviewers, pile on.
Listen to the news, on any channel. Why can’t one person deliver the news, without commentary, without discussion or debate, and do it alone? Why do we need three people interrupting each other, all talking at the same time, interpreting the news for us? While at the same time two ticker tapes are running across the screen, interrupting even more. How many people can listen to and read several different subjects at the same time and retain any of it? They don’t listen, they just pile on.
This has gotten to be epidemic. I see it and hear it everywhere. My book club, for instance. Sounds like a rugby scrum. After the meeting I feel like I’ve played rugby instead of having a book discussion. It’s a new way of discussing, a new way to have a conversation where no one hears or gets anything out of it. Everyone expresses an opinion, but no one listens to it because they are expressing theirs at the same time.
In my opinion, it’s because we are gradually losing our give and take communication skills. We don’t listen, think and respond, we text. We say what’s on our mind immediately. We don’t exchange letters with organized thoughts, we fire off an email. We can read it when it’s convenient and reply whenever we feel like it. It’s gotten to be a habit.
If you’d like to break that habit some books that might help: The Power of Two by Susan Heitler, PHD; What Do I Say Next? by Susan RoAne; Active Listening 101: How to Turn Down Your Volume and Turn Up You Communication Skills, by Emilia Hardman.
Don’t walk right in, sit right down and talk this new way of talking. We may all lose our minds along with our communication skills.