By Angela Murray
Human Bees Marketing Manager
Although the title of this article is “Lost Art,” I am not referring to actual physical art, something material you can feel. I’m referring to something much more subtle, often not even considered an art: communication. You might be asking, “How is communication an art? It’s just people talking and it doesn’t require any training or education.” Sure, it seems like it should be easy, but there are so many ways to communicate and so much subtlety in communication that it is not as easy as it seems.
I was inspired to write about this after a day of yoga and wine tasting with a friend. She and I always have the most interesting conversations. We were discussing communication, experiences with other people, and just life in general. During the course of that conversation, she said, “You know, people just don’t know how to really communicate anymore, it’s a lost art.” I thought about this, and realized I agree. It is a lost art! Communication is about so much more than just talking. can be written, verbal, electronic, facial, and so much more. Although it can be subtle, it’s there and I believe that, universally, we all just want to be heard and listened to. We want to know we are important, whether it’s at home, with friends and family, or in the workplace.
Most of my close friends know that I love to talk! Life is full of experiences and I love to share them. There’s so much interesting information that I enjoy sharing with people, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t listen as well. I know they want to be heard just like I do. What I have been noticing more and more is that even when communicating, it’s hard for people to actually convey what they are trying to say. It can be a challenge to find the right words and it can be even more challenging for people to listen without interrupting or getting distracted. As a result, much can be lost in communication and many misunderstandings can happen. Actions are also a form of communication, and if someone is spending time on their phone while you are with them, that communicates that whatever is happening on the phone is more important or more interesting. It’s not something people are conscious of or even purposeful about—in fact, it’s accepted in our society—and I‘d like to see that change.
Making this change is as easy as putting the phone aside and focusing on the person you are with, for the brief time that you are with them. The phone will always be there later. Texting, emailing, and social media are all forms of communication, but not the same as being with a person live. Appreciating the presence of another person has, in my opinion, become less valued despite the fact that it should be the opposite. In my previous positions, I was used to everyone being busy and grabbing their phones in meetings. It was the way things were and I felt and believed I was less important than the other things that needed to be done. It wasn’t something I questioned like I do now.
I’ve noticed something at Human Bees. I meet weekly with our CFO and regularly with our CEO, President, and other members of management. I realized something amazing and rare for busy executives: rarely, if ever, do they look at their phones, take calls, or text in our meetings. When I am meeting with them, I feel as if I have their full attention. I can take the time I need to hear and be heard without worrying that a text or a call is suddenly going to come in that changes my status to less important. The Human Bees culture in general is one that places importance on the person in front of them. Unfortunately, this is not common at other companies.
If we all take small steps towards paying more attention to what others are saying—in whatever form they are saying it—and responding in a way that makes them feel heard, it will make a big difference. Let’s start by putting our phones away when we have the privilege to spend time with someone in person. As society re-opens, we need to learn and be prepared to engage with one another in something other than an electronic form and let those around us know that they are important by listening, just as we want to be listened to. One of my favorite references on this topic is a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek. It’s just a few minutes long and a great reminder of our responsibility. I plan to challenge myself to do even better at this, and I hope you’ll do the same.