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We need to change the way we communicate

Christina Ausley

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If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard “communication is key,” maybe then I’d finally be able to afford one of the souvenir cups from Bryant Denny on a game day without cringing as I pass over a $10 bill. 

With technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to merely communicate. We shoot a quick text via cell or even wristwatch nowadays to a friend in between classes, or set up a GroupMe to keep in touch with the organizations we work with. We can send emails from apps, receive instant notifications and keep up with our friends’ locations at the touch of a button.

We enforce this concept of communication, and as long as we’re “communicating” with one another, everything should work out as it should, or at least we assume so because communication is key. 

Communication is key, communication is key, communication is key. It’s drilled into our minds. Communicate and talk to one another, and as long as you accomplish this then everything will sort itself out. What today’s society fails to do, however, is communicate well. Though communication is stronger and wider than ever before, true comprehension and understanding of our conversations and debates is at an all-time low — which, I suppose, contributes to much of our hopeless and stagnant conflict in politics, religion and overall society. 

Oftentimes, we end up in extreme arguments and conflicts over misunderstandings, not miscommunication. We communicate our thoughts well, but lose track of the conversation’s core because we’re too busy processing what to say next while our counterpart is trying to vocalize their own thoughts. We then begin talking, our conversational partner starts rolling through their own mind, the process repeats and we all end up exhausted  — honestly, not even knowing what we started debating in the first place.

Until we, as students and future employees, begin to fully engage in our conversations, we may be lost in an endless loop of misunderstanding and self-oriented thinking. 

Compromise, problem-solving and true progress cannot be made unless two or more individuals in a group setting fully understand the thoughts, ideas and dreams of their counterparts rather than simply bickering back and forth.

It’s time we stop solely engaging our mouths in conversations and start engaging our ears and minds as we truly process and acknowledge the opinions and beliefs of those around us. Once this takes place, once we fully process the words and thoughts delivered to us, we can then better sculpt our own opinions given to us by those the individuals we communicate and problem-solve with, and then we can execute a solution.

We live in a time of great debate and a time of vast potential for action. We engage in debates on a daily basis, whether that be over politics or the best method for executing a design or project. Yet we continue to live in the mere potential for action, as the communication never goes anywhere because neither party is truly acknowledging the thoughts and hopes of the other. 

We also live in a time of great divide, and to remedy this, listening must become key over communication. It is now that we must engage, work to understand and push to obtain true perspective as our nation’s progress, and our world’s progress, becomes dependent upon the ability to unify against common causes that ought not divide us. 

Communication is easy; it’s the full understanding that doesn’t come nearly as simple. Conversation by conversation, if we can begin to practice listening and engaging in the words of our counterparts, perhaps then we will begin to make progress.

Christina Ausley in a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs biweekly. 

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We need to change the way we communicate