I have lost count of how many times that I have been involved in dispute resolution that involved the contrasting individuals, or groups, failing to simply communicate with each other.
The lack of human to human communication has always been a problem but I believe that it is exacerbated by the convenience of email and social media.
Emails are short and to the point and often seem harsh…as they do not reveal the nuances of human speech.
Social media has reduced important and heartfelt emotions…to emojis!
During my over 32 years at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, I received numerous emails on a daily basis. It was my practice to respond to every email that I received within a 24 hour period…and, if possible, the same day of the email. Usually, I would telephone the writer of the email or go see them to ensure maximum communication between us!
Most concerns that are raised by emails of phone calls can be solved, easily, through talking about the problem or brainstorming. Those, little, problems,, that are not spoken about…turn into big problems!
We all crave respect! We all desire to be understood…and in turn we will reciprocate by understanding! Communication is the golden lubricant of life!
As superintendent of Building Services at SIUC I was pleased to speak with any and all who desired to speak with me. I was honored that they wanted to talk with me! This included all members of the university community from the president to the most recent student custodian that was hired. When we communicated…I listened for truths that I did not understand or was not aware of!
I understood that we could always be better! I knew that there were ideas that I needed…from the most unlikely sources!
There were chancellors that I admired during my tenure at the university. Jo Ann Argersinger was one of my favorites due to her willingness to listen to the ideas of civll service staff. I have been witness to genuine willingness to communicate as well as the placating and condescending kind of faux listening that administrators portray for political expediency.
An openness to new and better ideas is the hallmark of a successful leader. The cornerstone problem of the United States current state of affairs is a desire to return to the closed society of the 1950’s. Our country is changing…the demography of our country is, markedly, different. The only road to overcoming the racial divide that is crucifying our nation is for us to sit down at tables and speak, candidly, with each other…and learn of each other…and through that communication…understand our shared humanity!