#8 Say What?
Communication. It’s what I do for a living. I help others learn to communicate effectively. This is what makes it so ironic that the lines of interchange within my own family can be so tangled at times.
The first time that I realized that my usual method of talking with my boys had changed was several years ago when the boys were all in college. I had a quick question that any one of them could have answered, but none of the boys answered their cell phones. Cell phones (mind you) that we were still footing the bill for. Since they were all busy – presumably in class or studying – I decided to shoot them each a quick text message with the question, that way each one could answer at his own convenience. Strangely enough, each of them answered within a minute or less. It was then that I knew for sure, times had changed.
Not long ago, I was talking to my youngest son about an upcoming event. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure whether or not to invite a particular family, as I already knew that they would be unable to attend. He quickly assured me, “Mom, go ahead and send them a text. My friends and I call that a ‘courtesy text.’ That way even though they can’t come, they know that they were included. A lot of times you just need to know that someone thought of you.” Wise words indeed.
If I need an immediate answer from the boys, or even my husband, a text is the most probable method of communication to get a response. If that doesn’t work, there’s always “Google Chat” which usually gets a fairly quick reply as well. Email might elicit an answer within a week’s time, but definitely not immediately. And Skype or FaceTime are my all-time favorites for chatting with the boys when they are away from us. Whether text, chat, email or a phone conversation; the method really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to keep those lines of communication open at all times.
To connect on a deeper level, however, it is really important to have an old-fashioned heart-to heart talk. Face to face. Eyeball to eyeball. Nothing can replace sharing a conversation with those you love. The stirring that you feel when you are completely engaged with another person. The crinkle of their smile, the furrow of their brow, the leaning in as they try to prove a point. These are all things that can’t be read in a text.
Whatever the reason and however we choose to do it, the important thing is that we don’t let too much time pass between exchanges with our grown children and their families. Communication is critical for connection. I’d like to encourage you to take a moment to make a call or send a text; and begin to untangle those lines once and for all. Most importantly, once those lines are open remember to listen. Communicating effectively involves both speaking and listening; you might be surprised how much you can learn.