Communicating When You're Wordless

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I generally put out a new essay about once a week, give or take-ish. Maybe you’ve noticed that it’s been a couple of months since I’ve written. It’s not because I didn’t have anything to say - some new nuggets of communication acumen to share. It’s because I lost my words in the world.

I was overwhelmed and stricken and devastated on February 14th when yet another mass shooting occurred in an American high school. I was absolutely awed in the aftermath to see students, just a couple of years older than my own daughter, come together and say the words “never again” to the world. I have been horrified to see grown, seemingly educated people, vilify and harass those students because they have experienced the unimaginable and have concluded children should not be hunted in their classrooms. I’ve observed our legislators repeatedly dance & shuffle on policy, diplomacy and simple rightness, and I ask myself, “How did we get here?”

For the last couple of months, I’ve “liked” or retweeted other peoples words because I could not get my head around my own. Tough stuff for someone who makes a living in communication. I’ve watched and I’ve listened, and yes, I’ve felt all the feels, and I’ve found my words again. 

Humans are built to communicate face-to-face. It’s how we’re wired, it’s how we’ve evolved and it’s when we are able to give the most authentic representation of ourselves. Consider how young our technology is when compared with the human timeline. It’s embryonic, and while technology may connect us in certain ways, it actually offers more walls and hiding places than we’ve ever experienced. Than we could ever have conceived of experiencing. 

And it’s breaking us. 

This isn’t about an “us” or a “them.” At this moment, it matters less who you voted for than what you stand for. We are a collective, and connected. We need each other. We are all ripples in each other’s ponds and everything has consequences. We don’t have to agree but we do need to find common ground. Let’s look for that. Couldn’t that common ground start with basic decency? Can’t we as individuals stop shouting and posting and meme-ing and have actual conversations? 

Conversations are what make us. Not snarky posts, not political sound-bites, not lines drawn in a digital sand, but conversations. Let’s begin there, because the alternative is inhuman.

 

LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics headquartered in Charleston, SC.  Her company provides fun & interactive training events utilizing theatre strategies to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans.