“It seems like we rarely converse anymore. I mean, we talk and we chat (often over text or e-mail), but we don’t really hash things out. We spend a lot of time avoiding uncomfortable conversations and not enough time making an effort to understand the people who live and work around us.” ― Celeste Headlee, We Need to Talk
Being able to communicate with each other has been one of the biggest reasons for the survival of our species and its dominance over countless others. In other words, good communication is an essential component of being human. However, in the modern world, not only are we not individually and collectively striving to get better at it but on the contrary, we’re gradually getting worse and worse at it.
A study reported that college students in 2010 were 40 percent less empathetic than those from 30 years earlier. What brought this significant change? Yup, you guessed it right — the rise of technology and social media over the years. The digital platforms available to us in this day and age sadly encourage quick, fleeting superficial interactions, not meaningful connections, and empathy.
In another study, research investigators put multiple pairs of strangers in a room together and asked them to chat with each other. In half of the rooms though they strategically put a cell phone on the table. They observed that the phone, even when it was just sitting there, had a negative impact on the pairs’ communication. On the other hand, the pairs in the rooms that had no cell phones found themselves developing deeper bonds with their partners and feeling more trust and empathy for each other.
So the next time you find yourself engaged in a conversation with someone, do the right thing and put your phone away. The quality of your communication will surely skyrocket. But more importantly, if you want to truly succeed in the contemporary world — both personally and professionally — you must start taking the art of conversation seriously and commit to getting better at it. As you take responsibility and put sincere efforts into enhancing your interactions with others, in no time, you’ll start experiencing remarkable results.