We live in an era when you have many different ways to communicate via technology. You can text, email, send a snapchat, record a vine… The alternatives to having face-to-face conversations seem to grow the week.
People will frequently say, “I rarely answer my phone. Text me.” or “Don’t bother calling. Instead send me an email.” As we rely on technology more and more to communicate, we want to be careful that we are not harming our ability to connect with others. After all, there is a difference between a virtual and an in-person conversation.
Connection happens on a much deeper level in face-to-face communications. Looking into a person’s eyes as you have a conversation can be helpful, powerful, and can reveal a lot about both of you.
Not sure? Ask a friend or partner to join you in the following exercise. Stand facing each other with a 1 foot between each of you for space. Agree to look into each other’s eyes for 5 minutes. Show NO expression while looking into each other’s eyes. Do not look away. Look into each other’s eyes (not at the nose, overall face, mouth). If the other person struggles to not show emotion as time passes, you keep a blank face.
After the 5 minutes (you can set a timer on a phone), stop and discuss what the experience was like. People can share powerful discoveries and/or feelings such as awkwardness, connection, the deepness of the other person’s eyes, the joy they saw, intensity, and much more.** Without being in-person, these discoveries and connections are much harder to achieve.
You might be thinking, “I don’t look into a person’s eyes when I talk to the person.” Yes and that choice to not look someone in the eye shows how much technology has impacted in-person conversations. People struggle to focus and be fully present to the person and conversation they are engaged in. Decades ago, you were always taught, “Out of respect, you look a person in the eye when you talk to them.”
Some people will say, “Isn’t that creepy – to look someone in the eye during a conversation?” No! That choice is called listening and being attentive. When someone is looking you in the eye, you know they are probably listening. And yes you can look someone in the eye without being creepy. Be natural. Of course don’t lean as if you are trying to shoot lasers from your eyes into their eyes.
You don’t want to create a cold connection or be easily misinterpreted. And that is the problem with relying on technology too much. Technology can be cold and impersonal. It is hard to really gauge emotion from words on a screen. Different words and phrases can mean different things to different people. Arguments commonly occur via texting and email – when both people were actually agreeing with each other – over misinterpretations. Sarcasm and emotion is hard to accurately depict in short messages.
Some people hide behind technology and do things they would never do in real life, such as pretend to be someone else; or create “pretend” relationships at the cost of the other person (the cruelty of “Catfishing”).
So, can you have mutually amazing relationships in the age of technology? The answer is YES! And it takes effort – as it always has.
What is one of the keys to having a mutually amazing relationship in the age of technology? Concerted effort to have deep, meaningful connection with each other.
Each partner has to put themselves into the relationship 100%. When a person relies on technology for communication in a relationship, they are robbing both of them from the opportunity to have that in-person connection. The use of technology, such as Emijos, does not typically arise mutual passion and excitement in 2 people at the exact same moment for both people. Plus, they such technology is unreliable in communicating the details that often mean the most.
While using technology may be a fun way to enhance the relationship at times, it should never take the place of face-to-face conversations.
Imagine seeing your partner’s natural reaction when you ask, “What do you want?” What if your partner wants to do exactly what you want? Those moments are exciting and can be exhilarating and incredibly passionate.
What if your partner wants something different than you? You listen and you choose together what you mutually want. The result can be fantastic. Why? Because you connected with your words and looking into each others eyes.
Mutually amazing relationships are built on a foundation of solid communication and connection. No form of communication is as reliable or powerful as oral – asking and listening to each other.
**I first participated in this exercise attending a Landmark Forum event and thus want to give their organization full credit. You can learn more at http://www.landmarkworldwide.com/.