My grandmother was not the kind of woman that one could easily like. She came from another era and she never let you forget it. It was as if one day she woke up and selected that very moment to spend the rest of her life comparing with how things used to be.
She was very fond of opening a conversation (better described as a monologue) with the words: “The trouble with the younger generation today is….”
It was if she liked to turn her audience into her subject matter and if you plucked up the courage to try and defend yourself she had the really annoying habit of saying :“Now please don’t interrupt me dear, you are far too young to understand these things, or to have an opinion”.
I remember one such topic as if it was yesterday; she had got onto the subject of language; “the filth one reads in the papers, the expletives that one hears on the street, the ridiculous new words that don’t mean anything!”
I kind of wish she was around today, because I believe that I have reached an age where she might consider that I am old enough to be entitled to an opinion. I would feel much more comfortable to defend myself, perhaps we could even have a conversation on a more equal footing? Perhaps I could motivate her to reset her life clock and start living again?
I would love to see her face when she discovers that even my 80 something mother now has a ‘smart’ phone and that she enjoys the descriptive and colorful language of SMS texting. Perhaps I could impress her by saying that nothing is new? That before the phone was invented telegrams were the norm for those rich enough to send them. And that the abbreviations we enjoy today were born because of our desire to communicate deep and important messages with the minimum number of letters and spaces and that terms like ‘LOL’ can work on many levels depending on the context: ‘Laughing out loud’, ‘Lots of Love’, ‘Little old ladies’ . The possibilities are almost endless!
I would delight in pointing out to her that words like ‘hello’ and ‘OK’ are in fact very modern, made popular by the invention of the fixed line telephone. And I would tell her that what I like about today is that applications like Microsoft’s ‘Lync’ and Skype are bringing video conferencing to everyone with access to the internet and because they are completely free of charge we can take our time again to greet one another correctly with phrases like ‘Good morning, how are you?’ Or perhaps even one day: “Good morning my dear chap, you’re looking rather splendid this morning, if I may say so?”
For me, great communication is about saying much with as few words as possible. It’s about allowing the receiver to create an image in their head without the need to go into every minute detail. A great communicator is a person that observes and listens very intently and always knows precisely the right words to say, at the right time, to create the effect they want to have, after all isn’t that what communication is for – to have an effect on the receiver?
Have a good week,