“I learned early in sports that to be effective — for a player to play the best he can play – is a matter of concentration and being unaware of distractions, positive or negative.” – Thomas W. “Tom” Landry
As I watch in utter amazement, my wife Carol opens her Life360 app, (labeled as the ‘new Family Circle’), pointing to the geographical location of our daughter Kelly and her family. Data collected via satellites is transmitted into map icons on a display screen. My astonishment is understandable since Kelly’s family is not in Mobile where we live, but in England. Across the Atlantic Ocean!
Kelly’s family trip, that began in England followed by a sojourn in Ireland, is documented each day by Carol who shares with me numerous updates on their exact far-away location. Advanced technology — amazing to me! But, not that amazing in our modern world.
A huge volume of data is being collected, available for anyone who is interested. This fact alone has created an ongoing argument on whether private companies or our government should have access to so much personal and corporate information. Where do we draw the line? Some believe our government should get involved and stop the data from being collected in the first place. This debate will continue, but the genie is out of the bottle. Much more is known about us today in the public forum than ever before. And it is likely that our future will see the generation of lots more invasive data collection.
Despite the explosion of available data, right in front of us, in our own backyards, a treasure trove of harmless, uplifting information is being created and is not even being noticed. It is readily available and has zero financial cost. And, it has much to do with our successful journey in life. What?? Are you kidding me!? Where can I find this information? How?
We discover this data-rich minefield in the miracle of daily communication with others. People! The wonder of people and our conversations with them. Those who surround us have a great deal of information to impart if we just pay attention. If we just listen to the sounds and tone and see the non-verbal exchange. Listen. See.
When is the last time you had a 60-minute non-stop conversation with a family member, friend or coworker without any electronic disruptions? Rarely does this happen today. Even 20 minutes would be infrequent. Yet, when we have the privilege of such a conversation, we are amazed by what we learn. We are changed by these rare experiences.
Recently, I had the privilege of spending over 90 uninterrupted minutes, one-on-one, with another individual as part of an interview process related to a job opportunity in my company, Mondays are Great, LLC. And, I had the benefit of repeating this behavior four times in one single day. Four different individuals whom I had never met. At the end of the day, I was asked by a coworker how it went. My immediate reply was “I loved it.” Spending time with four different people. All new to me. Never met before. No electronic interruption. Only conversations. Talking and listening. A complete treasure.
The key element that made these conversations special was motivation. I was motivated to listen to each person because I was trying to discern who might be the best fit for a job with my company. I did not want to miss a single cue of something important. The candidate being interviewed was interested because of the potential of being offered a job. We both had knowledge that we wanted to discover.
When two individuals are motivated by what is spoken and heard in an atmosphere free of distractions, the end result is a really great conversation. In today’s world, this is rare. And, I had four of these opportunities in one day!
It is not often that I host an interview for a job opening, but, I do not have to limit great conversations to employment discussions. I can decide to have similar exchanges on a regular basis. What I need is someone who will join me in conversation and be as motivated as I am to talk and listen without disruptive cell phones. And, if we do that, the result is pure gold. Irreplaceable. Magic. The resulting dialogue trumps phone and computer communication by a mile. Do you know someone who is willing to have such a conversation?
There are many different non-verbal expressions, each with a special meaning. And because we are unique individuals, our own version of any countenance is going to be distinctive. A conversation that employs all of our senses, created by motivated participants, is a rare phenomenon. When you consider the elements of tone, volume and non-verbal response, communication with another person is broadened by an infinite number of choices in how it is conducted. No conversation with another person will ever be duplicated the rest of your life. It is uniquely distinctive from any other exchange from the past, or any you will have in the future. Some might call the experience a miracle. I enjoyed four of those experiences in one single day.
In our busy distracting world, we miss much of what someone is communicating, in part because we have not practiced listening. It is uncommon to give someone our undivided attention. We are not looking for non-verbal cues, but instead are almost ritualistically taking one more glance at a Smartphone screen. Only for 10 seconds, but long enough to miss that one non-verbal expression that made it special. We hear what the other person is saying, but true listening is outside of our normal behavior.
What can you do? Schedule a time when you can relax and engage another person in whole one-on-one conversation. Decide in advance that neither of you will have a phone or any other gadget within your reach. Silence any nearby phones. Turn off televisions and any other electronic devices. Choose an outdoor scene, if possible, where there are no vehicles or any other type of machinery that can be distracting. Choose a place where the only sounds are those created by the natural world. Talk. Listen. Be silent at times. Look at the other person. Really pay attention to all the non-verbal cues in your conversation. If you attempt to do this with others, you will find immediate and strong resistance. Consider it a work-in-progress.
After your dialogue has ended, write about your experience. What did you learn? How was this different than the normal discussions of today? What can you do in the future to have more effective conversations with others? Are there any personal rules you want to adopt for how to live abundantly in the electronically demanding world?
Real communication is a unique wonder. It involves unlimited forms of communication. It is a past art that we are losing every single day as infinitely more electronics take over our world.
Excellent communication is a key principle in a successful life
Every possible path that results in success is going to be supported by great communication. It is not too late to start a few simple habits that will ensure your success.
Today, I will focus on better communication by . . .