Monday, February 11, 2013

Communication != Exchange of information

"Communication is a learned skill...  They [people] are mistaking exchange of information for communication." 
- Richard the caller to KQED Forum

Last week KQED Forum had 1-hour segment discussing online dating culture.  During the call, one caller named Richard called in and made the above comment.  It was in the context of how communication tends to happen over electronic medium, and that is not necessarily the same as communicating with people in face-to-face meeting.  The caller was suggesting that there are who aspects of communication that we don't think about too much these days, and we need to practice to get better at it.

It gave me a pause.  Communication as exchange of information sounds logical, yet it feels like there are some things missing.  What could be missing?

There could be many things.  Body language, facial expression, tone of the voice, immediate response, etc.  But I think underlying all these aspects is empathy.

It is very easy to forget that there is another person standing on the other line when you are sending email back and forth.  That's because we often lose sight of who sent the message and instead focus on the message.  It's especially easier to forget when you have piles of emails that you have to go through each day.  Empathizing with the sender is hard to do when you are not seeing the other person and not hearing her voice.

For that reason, I find it absolutely critical that I speak to those whom I care about.  Email and texting are good tools to keep us close, but they are not the building blocks of creating meaningful relationship with people around us.


No comments:

Post a Comment