If you have ever been on the receiving end of the kind of communication where you felt nobody took the time to listen to you, you might be tempted to utter this common phrase: "You're so broke you can't pay attention."Even before the bottom fell out of the economy, people were busy. The culture of life has changed in the last hundred years from those close-knit families who spent time with their friends and neighbors eating home-cooked meals prepared by moms who spent hours with their daughters cooking and learning together. In the modern world, moms work either away from home or from home. We don't have time to spend two hours preparing a meal and with the invention of the microwave, thankfully, we don't have to. This is helpful because we have to take Johnny to football practice and Cindy to her gymnastics lesson after we drop off Tony at his clarinet lesson...or is that Thursday? I, too, am guilty of "busy-ness" as I try to make ends meet around a growing son with varied interests. And it's no wonder those ends don't meet; they have to travel around work and activities and cleaning and laundry and hundreds of email messages! I once saw a documentary done in the 1950's predicting that the free time of a homemaker would significantly increase in the 1970's as modern technology invented new and faster ways for mom to get her work done. It pictured her pushing a button to clean her house and cook her meals while she had time to sit and read a magazine. I must have missed that boat because I sailed right through the 70's and 80's and never noticed! I don't even buy magazines anymore because I simply don't have time to read them! Today's husband is busier than ever too! He may work long hours because his employer didn't want to hire another employee so he was given a slight raise in pay and twice the workload! Or he is busy working two jobs because his first employer doesn't quite pay the bills! When he gets home, he has to fix the dishwasher that was supposed to make his wife's life so much easier. Oh and don't forget that Jimmy's Cub Scout meeting is tonight at 6 and can you show him again how to tie that knot? With all the things that keep us busy, one thing has suffered greatly: our communication. Not only don't we have the time to have a good chat with our friends; we don't have the focus to pay attention to what they said (or emailed) when we do! Monica's got six things on her mind that she's got to do before she puts head to pillow. Right now she's on the phone listening to Aunt Mildred tell her about her gout while she is cooking dinner which has to be ready and eaten by 6:05pm or she won't get Timmy to piano on time! Somehow she missed the part where Aunt Mildred asked her if she could send Timmy a puppy for his birthday. "Uh huh" wasn't an answer to her question, it was merely a filler for conversation lulls when she had to take the roast out of the oven! The puppy arrived a week later and now Monica's busy alright! So with all the "busy" going around these days it is small wonder that our relationships are often strained and our life is somewhat frustrating as we struggle to clear up misunderstandings. I'd like to offer a few tips that come under the heading of "do it right the first time and you won't have to do it again!" I had a customer whose young child thought Art of Eloquence was Art of Elephants! It was so cute coming from a young child. However, I'll be willing to bet you have had similar experiences with adults. I know I have. Ever have an experience like this? One of my newsletter subscribers had unsubscribed and was kind enough to leave me some feedback as to why. She said that she was no longer teaching art class at the co op so she wasn't going to need any art supplies. Now she'd been a subscriber for two years! In that time she couldn't have spent any time reading my website or my newsletter or it would have been readily apparent that Art of Eloquence didn't sell art supplies. lol What I wondered was how often she might have thought, "Gee! As soon as I find a minute, I should look to see if anyone offers a creative speech course." We miss out on so many opportunities because we aren't taking the time to notice what is around us. I get a lot of SPAM so I am constantly deleting emails. I do so fairly quickly sometimes and I have, on occasion, missed an email that I had been waiting for. In my haste, I deleted the very email I needed! Had I not taken the time to follow up, I would have completely missed this opportunity! As busy as we are these days, it's important to take the time to listen to Aunt Mildred, to slow down and be careful that we don't miss a part of someone's email or the entire communication! It actually takes much more work and time to fix an issue, especially if the issue that follows involves hurt feelings due to a misunderstanding. The last issue I want to share with you is a request I received to contribute to an event a ministry was hosting. They must have found my website on some search engine and were emailing everyone asking for donations. When you own a business, this is not uncommon and Art of Eloquence often donates to worthy causes. However this request was different. You see they must have been in a hurry to send out all their emails. How do I know they didn't take the time to even read through my website? They were asking for artwork! I am a busy entrepreneur with a ministry of her own so I am sympathetic to those who have a lot on their plate. However, many of the people they contacted may not understand and could very easily have taken offense. First, when you own a business, you receive a great deal of requests to donate to various charities, events, and to individuals. I have had people email asking for free studies just because they couldn't afford to buy them. Business owners are hard workers and some may feel they work for very little pay especially in an economy that doesn't allow for the larger sales they used to have. Now put yourself in the shoes of this business owner working harder to make a less lucrative income for his family when along comes Mary Ministry asking for free stuff. How inclined is he to give, even to a ministry, to someone who hasn't even taken the time to read his website enough to know what he sells. Not only has Mary Ministry probably lost a donation, but her ministry has probably been tarnished in the eyes of this business owner. That's a much more significant loss to Mary than just a prize donation! What's worse is Mary will probably never know or have an opportunity to repair her ministry's image in his mind. He'll probably just delete the email, mutter to himself, and move on with his busy day. Saying "I'm busy" these days is kind of like saying "I breathe." Everyone is busy. Aunt Mildred is busy with her life too, but she took the time to pay attention to what Timmy wanted for his birthday and to call you and ask if it was alright with you to send it. Bob Business is busy, but if you were his customer, wouldn't you feel slighted if he didn't answer your inquiry? What if, instead of carefully answering your questions, he sent you a form email with answers to typical issues people have that didn't happen to include yours? We are busier these days than ever before, but if we don't pay attention, we run the risk of paying an even bigger price for miscommunication later on...because there's no "busy-ness" like slow business! ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer. Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula. You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com. For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com
There's No "Busy-ness" Like Slow Business!
I agree with you Becky Joie. I have had to prioritize several times as I tend to take on more than the Lord would ask of me. I’m kind of a “if some is good, more is better”, gal.
So many see themselves as busy these days that even if you are busier than they are, they won’t see it that way. They’ll still expect you to pay attention to them.
Very true. Good article. I think we can all learn from it. I like your point that saying “I’m busy” is like saying “I breathe” and yet some people are truly busier than others. That being said, I don’t think that it is a good thing to be too busy to communicate well. That is why I am slowly changing my priorities and slowing down. It takes time to put the brakes on when you are driving at the speed of a steam engine but I know it will be worth it.
What a great resource!
Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article