A strange thing happens to us as we age. We become more risk adverse and less open to the learning and growth possibilities abundant in life. We get set in our ways and habits. Our worldview becomes fixed. We are less willing to challenge our own perspective and very judgmental of others who disagree with whet we think. We tend to look backwards not forwards on social issues. The past gets sentimentalized while the future is rife with doubt and uncertainty. We are skeptical that the younger generation has what it takes to solve the problems that ironically enough our generation created. We become closed rather than open to possibility.
While email and text messaging are great communication tools, they are poor vehicles for dealing with conflict. Sadly, they can be used very effectively for instigating conflict. I’ve seen passive-aggressive behavior taken to new heights by individuals who don’t have to worry the interpersonal dynamics of looking another person in the eye when talking to them or reading and responding to group body language and other visual cues. It’s easy to rail against someone from a distance. It’s also common to misinterpret the intentions behind communication and jump to conclusions that may be flawed.
When you are a leader or manager part of your job is to listen until it hurts. You need to force yourself to pay full attention to what the other person is saying and then ask clarifying questions to make sure you fully understand them. It is also critical that you pay attention not just to what is being said, but also the body language and tone of voice. Both provide clues as to what is important to that person.