Getting Caught Up

 In Listening

Every day you hear this: ‘Things are moving so fast. I just got a smart phone and now I have to get the QR app.’ We are in the tech fast lane and most of us are bozos trying to figure it out. I stand in front of the line. If it weren’t for my children and several kind children of friends, I’d still be delivering messages by carrier pigeon.

My wife now texts me ‘I love you honey.’ It saves time and we efficiently love each other but I miss the kiss she so lovingly delivers when she tells me that in person.

I hired an ‘e-ssistant’ recently. We bought a business card reader so that she could input the thousands of decaying and dusty business cards I have stored in my closet, in desk drawers, in little boxes and of course scattered over my desk. I was proud of my proactive stance towards building my ‘data base.’ But as I began to sort through them I was struck with a simple observation. Many of the cards I’ve saved have no email address or web address. They are useless to me and my thought was ‘when did this happen?’

There’s an interesting parallel here with the coaching work I do. Many people unintentionally (I think) are still using relationship paradigms of their parents and grandparents. In companies, where I work with executives and leadership teams, I often see the same thing – hierarchical leadership, competition within teams, little attention to listening, storytelling and gossip, ‘isms’ of all sorts. Old stuff.

Political dialogue often strikes me as anachronistic as well. You might say that the speed of technological innovation has far outstripped relational innovation. We’re driving model A Fords relationally while talking on our smart phones.

Here’s a tip. Pick five people you know and trust. Then ask each of them a few questions:

On a scale of 1 -10 where do you think I place your value?

When you’re talking to me about something important, do I listen to you?

Do I seem to know the difference between listening to you, and finding a solution for you?

Tell me the three most important things about yourself (then check if how well you know them)

What are you most afraid of? (then check how well you know them)

This little exercise will tell you if you’re living an illusion or if you are genuinely connected and conscious of those you love. It will bring you into the present where good relationships answer the question: “who are you really, stranger?”

Moving from ‘then’ and ‘the way it was’ to now means learning that good communication is possible but must delete assumptions, theories, the tiny fonts of those old business cards. We’re not only looking at texting those we love, we’re insisting that who you are, right now, is the most critical component of healthy relationships.

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