Angst surrounding communication is universal. Speaking formally before large groups can cause great anxiety, so much so, even the most accomplished professionals often shy away from attempting to try it. But how about one-on-one conversations and speaking with those closest to us?
As we approach the third decade of the new millennium, do you see effective communication increasing or waning? Are our “circles of support” growing or do we reach out to a more limited group of family, friends, and neighbors?
If the ability to communicate effectively permeates through our families, it will strengthen our relationships and marriages. It will also give the next generation stronger role models and a greater ability to powerfully advocate for themselves and others.
I’m not saying that every thought or emotion that pops up should be articulated and examined. There are only so many hours in a day! What I am pointing to is the importance of assessing how our society is currently interacting and that bad habits may be forming. Notice that while technology has increased, speaking, communicating and human interaction has diminished.
If we can slow or even reverse this decline, everyone wins.
Generations Y & Z will win because when younger people begin their careers and adult lives, they will most certainly have an advantage if they are skilled and nimble in technological, business AND communication skills alike.
Seasoned professionals will also have an advantage because communicating effectively and consistently can be a most strenuous task. But doing some of the most challenging work there is (on earth!) helps us grow as individuals, as we build stronger, more confident lives. Plus, isn’t having healthy human connections what life is all about?
We could have every “thing” in the world but if we’re living a life where one or more of our relationships are in a shambles because of miscommunication, lack of communication or any type of unhealthy communication, we are carrying a very heavy burden indeed.
The Iroquois Nation, the oldest living democracy on earth got it right. A very long time ago, they declared that when faced with an important decision they would first consider the effect their decision would have “seven generations in the future”.
What will it mean to our careers, society and our families seven generations from now if this tendency towards steering away from human interaction continues? We can answer that by understanding what happens whenever we choose the habit of immediate gratification. We receive our reward now. But what happens later?
Whether we wish to elevate ourselves professionally or we want to sustain a healthy, thriving family (or BOTH!), good communication is key. It begins with communicating effectively, first, with ourselves. Once we establish that connection, which is a critical first piece, we can move on to communicating effectively with others. I am confident that this is the remedy to the current situation we’re in—a society where unhealthy habits are proliferating and healthful, life-enhancing human connection is waning…a life where the element of trust in families and companies is sometimes elusive, as we choose the comforts of ambiguity over clearing the air and advocating for ourselves and others.
To live richer lives, complete with robust relationships and the confidence to ask for what we want and need, we can begin to right this course today.
And do not worry. While communicating effectively takes willingness, knowledge and practice it may take fewer words than you think.