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Improving Personal Relationships

The richness of life comes from our interactions with other living things. But many of us don’t interact with living things as much as we used to. For example, as I write this article it is appearing on my monitor, but on my companion monitor there is a screensaver. The screensaver image is of a beautiful green rolling meadow lying under a blue sky dotted with white fluffy clouds. The grass in the meadow seems to be leaning a bit, so I believe that there is a gentle breeze pushing at the grass. I see a few yellow dots in the foreground of the screen. The dots probably represent dandelion plants.

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In my mind I recall from years gone by the scent of various herbs emanating from the hay fields near my parents’ home. It’s wonderful to have a beautiful screensaver to remind me of vistas and smells from my youth. But it’s so much more fun to be out walking in the hay fields, feeling the breeze, smelling the flowers, enjoying nature. Isn’t it? Oh, well, I guess you can get the sense of what it’s like by using those scratch-off smell thingies while you look at the pictures. Who needs to interact with nature?

I have three walking paths near my home. Two of them are nature paths and one is in a neighborhood that I like. If I get out before 7:00 a.m. along the nature paths, I see all sorts of little wildlife running around, while in the neighborhood I see other people out walking and neighbors starting their day. It’s energizing.

Did you play hide and seek by the light of the lightning bugs when you were a kid? I remember that a bunch of neighborhood boys and girls would start the game at just about sundown. As it got dark, we wanted to continue to play, so we did. The boys of course would hide in the darkest hiding place they could find and then jump out screaming when one of the girls got close. In the darkest area of the yard we were playing in we couldn’t see each other until we literally bumped into somebody. Of course, today parents are afraid to let their children out in broad daylight, let alone after dark, because of the suspected criminal predator living down the street. It’s tough to establish personal relationships and create wonderful memories in that environment, isn’t it? But it can be done when we find ways to communicate with trusted neighbors.

Improving personal relationships is a lot of work. It requires face-to-face, or at least voice-to-voice, contact. It requires that we get ourselves cleaned up, dressed up and out of the house. It requires that we learn a little of the social graces, that we keep up with the events of the day, that we learn how to communicate orally, aurally, silently, and in writing. A friend of mine asked her daughter why she enjoyed text messaging her friends rather than just calling them on the phone, or visiting with them. “Text messaging is impersonal,” she replied. “When I text message, I don’t have to deal with emotions; I can just get the information I want. I can also text message with multiple people simultaneously.”

Think about that for a second. What my friend’s daughter was saying is that the human element to communication is an impediment. Emotions are inefficient. She doesn’t want to have to deal with people’s feelings. While this attitude toward communication may get her through high school and even through college, it will fail her miserably when she gets into the working world. As written in an article in the National Communication Association, “ What was once seen as the field of speech and rhetoric is now the discipline of communication that includes communication in the workplace, in families, in mass media, and in advertising, to name a few. Contemporary students of communication draw on theories and practices common in the fields of anthropology, psychology, sociology, linguistics, semiotics, and rhetoric. Students in broadcast communication make use of work in computer engineering for web development and streaming audio and video. Communication as a discipline now includes interpersonal, small group, organizational, intercultural and international, public, mass, and mediated communication. The study of communication considers how people communicate as individuals, in society, and in various cultures. In the 21st century, contemporary society is increasingly diverse and communication is more complex.”

Improving personal relationships in a complex society is not easy but with Outfluence it is easier. My experience has been that when I communicate by leading with my best attributes -in other words, my smile, my focus on you, my ability to listen – it brightens the whole experience for me and for my conversation partner. It gets us off on a positive track, and it enables good things to happen.

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