We stare at screens and rely on technology to keep us connected more than we did before the 2020 pandemic. Now seems like a good time to revisit what we know about the power of connection. Oxford University anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar has done the research and the math. In short, we need quality relationships that evolve over time and circles of people in our lives. Healthy relationships are maintained with communication. With new rules in place, gatherings smaller and smiles undetectable behind face masks, reminders about how to communicate well to best nurture relationships are top priorities for many.
Despite the coronavirus constraints, there are lessons for the taking that can improve our communication. We are all making adjustments to new routines, but when it comes to what matters in the realm of communication, experts agree that what’s old is what’s new. We’ve turned to three of them to distill some top tips.
Keep talking (texting is not talking).
- Even if we can’t be face-to-face right now with all the people we care about, the research is clear: we need to talk. Actual conversations in real-time feed our hearts and souls and further our careers. There is no substitute for the give-and-take of a conversation. Even if we can’t make as much in-person eye contact as we’d all like to, we can make the efforts to respond to one another’s voices (and still and video images) in the moment. According to journalist, author and speaker, Celeste Headlee, When you talk:
- Be present: multitasking does not work well for humans in general, but especially when it comes to the use of language. So, unless you’re talking on it, put the phone down (and turn off all the distracting notifications).
- Watch your bias: we all make assumptions based on our own particular experiences, but we all have blind spots.
- We can all get better at communicating if we try, and it can improve our lives.
- Warmth is based on authenticity. It’s not manufactured.
- You don’t have to practice being sincere. Just be sincere.
Share your vulnerability.
- As Emmy-winning “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts puts it, “Make your mess your message.”
- Roberts shares that vulnerability is not weakness, it’s strength and it opens up conversations.
The lessons of summer 2020, a summer-like-no-other, can serve us well. There is so much to learn if you look at it that way. Keep listening and keep talking.