On my way home from a trip down south, I sat in proximity to four young ladies as I waited for my plane to begin the boarding process. There was nothing significant about them (except maybe the Pad Thai they were having for breakfast—an apparent natural consequence of flying out at 6 am from an airport with an open Panda Express). But soon everything changed.
I looked up from my phone, and my eyes met one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! They had been communicating all this while, and I didn’t know it! I had not heard a sound! I don’t know anything about sign language, but I immediately fell in love with its beauty and grace.
I assume thousand of words must have gone unsaid between them. One of them was trying really hard to convince the others of some idea or proposition. With every hand gesture, she made a strong case for herself. And with every responsive hand gesture, her friends showed they were engaged, dialed into the conversation. It was a thing of beauty. But most importantly it provoked my mind.
At that moment, I learned the difference between what I believed as communication and what was going on before me. Here are some the conflicting thoughts that tore at my mind:
You have to look, not just see. There were no blank stares in this group—no minds wandering far far away.
You have to think/process, not just consume. Every hand gesture had to be interpreted quickly as more gestures followed rapidly. It wasn’t so much about the moving of the hands as it was the meaning of the movements.
You have to be as engaged when receiving information as you are sending it. There was no room for passive participation until it was your time to speak. If you took your eyes off whoever was talking, you missed chunks of what was said.
There and then, I realized these ladies probably did more communicating in a few minutes than I did my entire life. Everyone's head was swinging as they took turns expressing hopes, doubts, opinions, concerns, intent and whatever else teenage girls express.
It's high time we realized that communication is much more than talking. It's showing. It's showing that you're genuinely interested in the theme of the conversation, showing that you are interested in the feelings of whoever is speaking. Showing that you're more interested in communicating than in talking.
I propose that showing, either by interest or indeed, is a far better way of communicating.
What has your communication been like?