All of the advanced technology we have these days has simultaneously helped and hurt many aspects of our daily lives.
Like our abilities to communicate effectively.
I usually consider myself a pretty good communicator (it’s kind of my job to be so), but there are times when I’m just really bad at getting my message across when I really want to. Sometimes we need to say the things that are on our minds or hearts, even when we’re afraid to do so or nervous about what the other person might think or say back. When I was walking through Kroger over the weekend, I heard O-Town’s smash hit “All or Nothing,” and I couldn’t help but sing it out loud (obviously) but also be reminded how important it is to say out loud the words your heart needs to say.
This has always been a problem for me with the fellas. A few years ago, there was a guy who captured my heart, kissed me, then made some pie-crust promises and moved across the country. For the next almost 10 months, I felt really confused and wanted so badly to know if anything would ever happen. Sure, we talked a lot, but it was mostly through texts and nothing that gave me any clarity. He’s the only guy I’ve ever kissed, so I guess my heart was a little more impacted than it should have been. But I never just came out and said everything I wanted to say to him. I let crappy communication win, and I lost.
Sometimes I even communicate poorly with my best friend, my own sister. We had a recent misunderstanding in which she hurt my feelings and didn’t even realize it. All I had to do was tell her, but instead I tried to be tough about it and let it go. Meaning and intention can often get lost in texts, and I should have picked up the phone and called her rather than getting upset and staying silent. But I didn’t, and I wasted time being upset about something that really wasn’t anything. When we chatted in person, it became clear to me how silly I had been in not saying what I should have originally said. I let crappy communication win, and I lost.
I’m not going to say a ton about emails. They are probably worse than texts when it comes to being able to decipher tone, especially if sarcasm is involved. A lot of times at work, I just go talk to the person I need to speak with rather than sending an email, depending on what I need to talk about with that person. I did this a lot when I was teaching, too, especially if it was an email from a parent. I preferred picking up the phone and calling in those instances because it’s a lot easier to be able to talk about such matters when you’re having real conversation.
But for those in-person convos, there is one thing you still need that often gets diminished when you realize you can’t hide behind a screen or turn off the read receipts and take a sufficient amount of time to reply: courage. Last week, I was having lunch in a quiet couch/lobby-type-but-not-a-lobby area of the hotel adjacent to the building where I work, and this very attractive human being sat on the couch next to me and began working on his laptop. We exchanged glances and smiles a few times, and I really wanted to ask him out on a Cheetos date (I have a history of doing that). But I didn’t. I didn’t say one word to him. I got up and left without saying anything I wanted to say, and now we will never eat Cheetos together. Ever. I let crappy (nonexistent) communication win, and I lost.
I think we need to forget about all that technology has become and listen to the advice of two musical geniuses: Michelle Branch and John Mayer. Michelle has some lyrics I relate to entirely: “Well, it’s all so overrated, not saying how you feel. So you end up watching chances fade and wondering what’s real.” And Johnny boy says exactly what I wish I could live by: “Even if your hands are shaking, and your faith is broken; even as the eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open. Say what you need to say.”
So, say what you need to say.
And it just might be a win for your heart.