Eye contact (or lack thereof)

I teach social skills at school.  One of the lessons I teach the most is how to listen.  I talk about the steps of looking at the person who is talking, keeping your mouth quiet, keeping your body still and thinking about what they are saying.  I make posters with visual reminders for teachers to hang in their classrooms, I use verbal reminders with students every day, I teach and reteach over and over.  And yet, I suck at doing this myself.

The last few months I have found myself being irked more and more often with both smart phones and their owners.  I feel the relationship between the two is cutting into my relationships with everyone I know.  Have you found yourself telling someone a story that is of great importance to you only to have the ‘listener’ nod and give an occasional “uh-huh” without ever once taking their eyes off their phone?  This makes me want to scream!!!  When did I diminish into nothing?  When did everything I have to say become of no value whatsoever?  When did everyone I know stop caring about me?  What the heck are they doing on that phone anyway?  I feel I am missing out on something very important.  Sort of like when you are little and two of your friends start whispering and you have no idea what they are saying–only that it does not involve you.  Sucky feeling indeed!!!  Stop whispering with your BFF cellphone people!!!

And yet, with this awareness, with all my teaching and reteaching, with knowing how much I value MY relationships with others, I all too often find myself doing the EXACT same thing.  My kids will be telling me a story about school while I am text-messaging someone about work.  My husband will be telling me about his work while I am looking at recipes on pinterest.  I give the occasional nod, “uh-huh,” and try to ask an appropriate question, but I am honestly not thinking about what they are saying.  I am making them feel tiny.  Unimportant.  Worthless.  I am doing this to them.  And for what?  I assure it is for nothing that cannot wait.  It is for nothing that even comes remotely close to as important as they are.  So why then?

Because it is a habit?

Because I need this much visual stimulation?

Because I feel lost when I am not staring at a screen?

Because I feel a constant need to multi-task?

Because I feel it is my escape?

I do not know.  What I do know is that I am better than this.  Lately I am trying to be as aware of it as possible. I am trying to do everything I do with intent.  I am trying to think about exactly what I am doing at any given moment and go back to WHY I am doing it.  I am trying to make myself PAUSE from whatever I am doing, turn my body so it is facing the speaker, and look them in the eyes.  Then I try to THINK about what they are saying.  I am transforming it from background noise to the present center of my universe.  They have my full attention.  I want them to feel me saying “I am listening.  I HEAR you.”  I want them to feel important, valued, loved.  Because the truth of it is, they are.



****I am writing this the night before I get my very first smart phone.  My iPhone will be here soon and I will be more challenged than ever before.****


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tom Smith
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 00:20:28

    Yea, verily!


  2. Laura
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 20:00:35

    I heart this post! And you!


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