What's Your Script?

How we revise our narratives.

The Lost Art of Listening

I can listen, can you?

The reason my students take my communication class is to learn how to communicate better, and they are never without their technology. They are frequently looking down and it is clear what they are doing. They are busy communicating elsewhere.

One goal of the class is to learn about one another and to be able to speak coherently with one other. This takes time, focus, engagement and above all trust in one another. The face-to-face value of interpersonal trust does not come from a device in their hands but rather from work, skill, and the ability to think critically about their lives in connection with others.

Our lives have all been changed by technology and it is important and inevitable.  Children text their parents instead of having a direct conversation. Students “communicate” with people who they might not recognize. Partners send emails and texts rather than make phone calls. I wonder if the value of human communication is just evolving or if it is going to become a lost art like letter-writing. Perhaps there is a value in this paradox. The older generations, not totally technology savvy, still listen in the face-to-face situations. They offer a sense of trust and compassion to the youth that cannot be found in the massive network of digital generated communication. I wonder if the human communication dynamics are truly lost in the world or if a new dimension will evolve?

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Jeanne Christie, Ed.D., Ph.D., is an adjunct professor in communications at Western CT State University and at Manhattanville College.

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