When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it. -Bernard Bailey
How many of us read that quote, laugh for a minute and then think of someone else that statement applies to?
I mean, it couldn’t refer to us?
Yes, we do sometimes text when we’re driving and respond to our emails on our Blackberries during meetings, but what people don’t understand is that we are really busy and we have a lot we need to say.
Stand in a room with other people sometimes and watch the pronouns “I,” “me” and “mine” pour out of their mouths.
We are, it seems, in love with the sound of our own voice.
And when we’re not talking to people we know, we can now “tweet” to the universe.
Twitter gives us 140 characters to answer the question “What are you doing?”
As if other people really need to know what we’re doing.
What’s going on?
Not long ago I was standing in line at the grocery store. The person two spaces ahead of me was on her cell phone having a very personal conversation within earshot of anyone who could hear. A man behind the caller was looking at the woman who was talking.
She stopped for a moment, peered at the man and announced, ”Do you mind, this is a private conversation!” “Actually,” he replied, “it’s quite a public conversation as you are having it within earshot of anyone who can hear.”
With that, she hung up.
Many of us have lost our sense of social appropriateness and have developed a case of “Social Tourette’s Syndrome” where we spew out inappropriate comments as if we have no control over what is coming out of our mouths.
From where did this complete lack of awareness originate?
We are, I would suggest, frantic to communicate because we feel so invisible.
We hide in a maze of technology and are becoming increasingly unable to communicate face-to-face, one-on-one in a meaningful way with other human beings.
What to do
We need to stop talking at one another and we need to begin talking with each other again.
And we need to begin listening to what we are saying and how we are impacting others.
A client called me a few weeks ago and needed some advice. As the owner of the company, he felt his employees needed a ”pep talk,” but he didn’t know what to say. I asked how long he intended to speak. He said he planned on taking no more than fifteen minutes.
“You can say all you need to say in under five minutes,” I told him. “Tell them two things. Tell them you’re lucky to have them as employees and tell them you’re proud of them.” That’s it.
Nothing feels quite as good as knowing we really matter.
This frantic need to communicate might just be a frantic need for attention.
Turn off your Blackberry for a couple of hours.
Resist the urge to habitually spew out something about your day online.
Sit down with another person, ask how they are doing and really take the time to listen.
Do that every day for a week and see how you feel.
By focusing on others, we might stop tweeting and actually begin connecting again.