I recently heard something that shocked me while listening to a distinguished counselor within my community. He said, “Communication may be the most dangerous thing we do.” I was immediately taken aback by this. Initially, it made zero sense – and so I set out to investigate a little deeper.
As it turns out, it is true: communication is dangerous, especially when physically distanced. During this time, we (okay, I) have relied more on digital communication in a world that is fractured and struggling with communication as it is. Relying heavily on less personal forms of communication right now has also led me to be misinterpreted more; increasing the distance between myself and those I’m trying to connect with.
You see, as I am creating a message, it’s coming from my own mind so I don’t assign tone to my words because, well…I understand where I’m coming from. But it turns out, when I receive digital-only communication, I DO assign a tone to it. Kind of hypocritical to think others don’t do that when receiving a communication from me, right?
In addition, let’s face it, there is such simplicity in shooting off a quick, digital communication. Even times that I put thought, time and effort into a carefully crafted email – it may still come across as cold or impersonal to the receiver. So, with that, I’ve made a couple hard/fast rules for myself until this pandemic is over and our options open up:
- Only use digital communication as a medium for the simple exchange of information and never for conflicts or conflict resolutions. The latter requires the complete understanding that only tone and inflection that a phone or in-person conversation can provide.
- I’m committing to picking up the phone more. (I’m kind of zoomed out anyway!) Until it’s safe again for both parties, a phone call is the most personal form of communication and leaves less to interpretation.
So, the short of it is – when it comes to communication, what is “between the lines” is exactly the secret sauce that takes the “miss” out of misinterpretation. (And we can’t wait to see your faces and hear your voices again real soon!)
What ideas do you have for safe communications? What challenges have you faced in communicating during this past year?
Until next time,