Why It’s Important

FACE TO FACE ENCOURAGES STUDENTS TO PUT DOWN THEIR CELLPHONES AND PRACTICE THE ART OF CONVERSATION AND active lISTENING, BOTH ESSENTIAL SKILLS THAT ARE RARELY PRACTICED IN OUR AGE OF TECHNOLOGY-BASED COMMUNICATION.

 

WHY IS THE ART OF CONVERSATION SO IMPORTANT? TAKE A LOOK. 

“We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet, we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection. Texting and social networking let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we want to, we can delete, or even retouch: the voice, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little – just right.
We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places – in politics, commerce, romance, and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.

FACE-TO-FACE conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits. As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions; and so, dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters.

Not too long ago, people walked with their heads up, looking at the water, the trees, the sky, and at one another talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing. Even when they are with friends, partners, or children, everyone is on their own devices.
So, I say, look up, look at one another, and let’s start a conversation.”

“The Flight From Conversation
The New York Times, April 21, 2012

“As the social fabric of the Western world weakens, it is not surprising that more and more people define themselves as lonely. And thus, loneliness has become the most common ailment of the modern world.

One of the possible reasons for this ailment is the online social network… We’re collecting friends like stamps, not distinguishing quantity versus quality, and converting the deep meaning and intimacy of friendship with exchanging photos and chat conversations. By doing so, we’re sacrificing conversation for mere connection …

So what is the problem in having a conversation? Well, it takes place in real-time, you can’t control what you’re going to say, and that is the bottom line…

We’re expecting more from technology and less from each other.”

“The Innovation of Loneliness”
Winner of the 2013 Forster Film Festival Creativity Award

“True listening is not always easy. It is a skill we develop. In this era of technological expertise and emotional unavailability, all too often there is more speaking than listening. We are not really conversing but merely exchanging rhetoric.

For a genuine dialogue to occur, speaking and listening must both play leading roles. Conversation is a dance and play between two interlocking human minds, which naturally creates harmony. Therefore, having a good conversation is an art that benefits oneself and others.

In the art of conversation, two people are equal partners. When one is speaking, one is more active; when one is listening, one is more receptive. A conversation where someone is speaking but no one is listening fosters disharmony—within the conversation and within the relationship. Thus, in order for the conversation to be healthy and productive and to grow, both participants need to take turns listening.

One reason we have conversations is that often we just need someone to hear what we have to say. However, in a world where we are constantly encouraged to indulge and gratify our own desires, it can be difficult to find someone to listen, because that means focusing on the other person rather than oneself. Unfortunately, we are creating a culture in which everyone is expressing themselves but no one is listening.”

“True Listening”
High Lama Sakyong Mipham for the Shambhala Sun, January 2014