Reclaiming the Lost Art of Communication

My good friend Sara recently repeated this conversation to us, and we laughed until we could laugh no longer."Hi, how are you?" the next-door-neighbor asked Sara."I'm dying, thank you," Sara replied in an even tone of voice."Great!" the neighbor responded heartily. "Do you want to come with me to the one-day-sale downtown?".It's a sad fact of modern living.

I call it the lost art of listening. We have more ability to communicate than prior generations could have ever imagined. Yet we have less communication than ever.I remember seeing my grandfather marvel at the awesome power of the fax machine about two decades ago. "He puts the paper inside of it in California, and it comes out here in New York!?" Can you imagine what he would have thought of my cell phone with caller-ID, instant messaging, and podcasting?.

The vast array of technological means of contacting others, regardless of their location, is absolutely incredible. One would imagine that relationships are strengthened, and more close friends are gained. However, the alarming statistics of divorce, low self-esteem, and loneliness tell another story. How is it possible, that in the twenty-first century, the art of communication is at an all-time low?.Perhaps the many facets that are available to us impede our level of focus.

After all, how easy is it to have a conversation with your spouse while answering the phone and responding to an instant message? In addition, the doorbell is ringing, incoming emails are beeping, and the TV is broadcasting simultaneously! Simply reading those sentences is sufficient to send my head spinning!.When the opportune time presents itself for a conversation, what are you doing? Do you have a habit of impatiently waiting for your partner to finish his thoughts, so that you can add your words of wisdom? Perhaps you are looking at your watch in anticipation of the next appointment, flipping through the newspaper, and checking the list of missed calls on your cell phone.The only constant within the field of communication is that it always takes two to tango. People will respond to the tone of your voice and the pace of your conversation by matching your manner of speech. Have you ever spoken with someone who has laryngitis, and noticed that you are whispering? We respond in kind to the way in which we are spoken. As a result, when you change your method of communicating, the people with whom you relate will start to change their method of communication.

Imagine if you became a better listener today, and several months down the road you influenced ten people to improve their listening techniques, who then proceeded to influence an additional ten people each.We can resurrect the lost art of listening, and change the face of global communication today. Begin by listening with all your senses to your partner's words.

Imagine the scene he is describing and picture yourself in the situation he is outlining. Take the energy to put yourself in his shoes, and feel the emotions that he is expressing. Then, take a moment to pause and reflect. Are the words that jumped into your mind the response he would appreciate hearing, or the habitual response that you would appreciate saying? If a personal thought such as, "I must pick up the suit at the cleaners before 7:00." keeps popping to forefront of your mind, take a pen and write it down.

That will free your mind to concentrate on the subject at hand with total focus.Rest assured, after practicing the above techniques several times, they become second nature. Choose a time, perhaps the time your spouse returns home from work, to practice daily, and tape the above paragraph to your bathroom mirror. Your rewards will be richly deserved and soon in arriving: The next time you have a subject of importance to talk about, you will be conversing with an empathetic, understanding, and listening ear.

.Ellen C. Braun is the editor of, a leading parenting advice resource.

She is dedicated to improving communication between parents and children wordwide.

By: Ellen Braun

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