“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” - George Bernard Shaw
I have been chewing on this quote lately. On one hand, it hits me in the hearing aids. Even I am not always aware that I did not catch something. Someone will say something and I'll think that I understood them perfectly, so I don't ask for clarification. Then somewhere down the line, I discover that what I heard was not what was said. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes awkward. I think it makes people feel like I wasn't listening to them in the first place and I feel bad that happens (Yah, I confess there are times I'm not listening, or I'm zoning in and out of the conversation. We all do that. I'm talking about the times where I really was listening but somehow misinterpreted something but didn't think I had. Or maybe didn't realize I was not getting all of the information).
On the other hand, the quote hits me in the heart, too. I think so often people think that as long as we acknowledge each other with a "hello, how are you" or we follow people on Twitter, that we're communicating and engaging in community. And don't get me wrong, those things are helpful. "Hello" can eventually lead to conversation and Twitter, Facebook and blogging are great portals to connection. But we tend to treat them as replacements for face-to-face, heart-to-heart interactions. I am guilty of this. I don't reach out as much as I should. I'm intimidated by parties and large groups... even small groups require me to give myself a pep talk before heading out! ;) So I'm most comfortable and most myself in one-on-one settings or itty-bitty gatherings. I get the feeling, though, that it's the opposite for most people. It's hard to find someone who's willing to scale back and community with me (oh yes I did just use the word community as a verb. Jon Acuff would be proud).
I'm fully aware, though, that the road goes both ways. Parties and groups aren't impossible for me. I act like they are, but they're not. My new-ish digital hearing aids (I've had them for two years) do a much better job of filtering out background noise than I give them credit for. My lipreading skills are solid. Communication is not impossible in more crowded settings, so I'm wrong to completely avoid those things myself. I'm sad that people seem intimidated by me, or rather, intimidated by the idea of talking to me, but on a lighter note, in the spirit of the road going both ways, I'm the same way. I'm just like that with the young moms! ;)
Don't get me wrong, I'm not scared of them. I know they're people, too. I love kids. I love their kids. But I find myself tongue-tied. It's like I think that if I don't have children myself, then we have absolutely nothing to talk about. As if the only thing these ladies know is child-rearing and nothing else. As if I have nothing to offer them because I'm not even married. Psh. I know in my head that's false, but I struggle to get over it. I'm silly. So tell me, friends, what should a single, not-even-dating girl talk to a married mom about? That's my awkward honest moment of the day. Enjoy. ;)
I want to stop buying into the illusion that communication and community have taken place. I want to feel free to say, "What did you say?" I want to be comfortable reaching out. I want to do those things even when it's not comfortable. I want to give and be poured out. Like Jesus was.
I want to be all used up when I die. - George Bernard Shaw