Distracted Discourse · 16 November 2019

Distracted discourse can be dangerous to your relationships.

Being distracted can be dangerous to your health. When you are driving or working about heavy equipment, you must always be vigilant. You must always be aware of your surroundings or things could go seriously awry. Being distracted in those situations can truly be dangerous to your health.

We can see this danger most often with distracted drivers. Those are the people who come into your lane because they are looking down at their phones. Even though it is illegal and dangerous, people still drive distracted. And I am not sure why. But as dangerous as distracted driving is to your physical health, distracted discourse can be equally dangerous to how you relate to other people. Distracted discourse can be dangerous to your relationships.

We all think that we can multitask. Text and drive. Juggle and eat an apple. Read and watch TV. Be on the internet and talk to somebody. I know. Some people really can juggle and eat an apple, but doing those other combinations of tasks are surely impossible. At least if you want to survive, or do either one or the other well.

I know that I am not a multi-tasker. I can only do one thing at a time. Especially, when it comes to talking with other people. I need to make sure I do not have distracted discourse.

Communicating with other people takes immense concentration. You need to actually listen to the other person’s words. But looking at the other person is just as important. After all, you can tell much of what a person is feeling by looking at him or her. Seeing a person speak is just as important as hearing tone and inflection. And of course, as important as listening to the words.

I know all these things about active communication. We probably all know these things. But I have too much distracted discourse. I am sometimes distracted by my iPad when I am talking to important people. When I am talking to my family. And that is something I do not want to do. I want to fully engage with my family when I talk to them. I want them to know that what they are saying is important. I want them to know that I am taking them seriously. And more importantly, I want to make sure I hear the words they are saying and the feelings they are communicating with their facial expressions and body positions. I want to really communicate instead of barely listening.

Of course, there are times when I really listen. When I put away my device and have actual conversations with people. When I do not have distracted discourse. And I am working toward that being the case all the time instead of some of the time or even most of the time. I am working to shut down my device when I am listening to somebody talk. I am working on having undistracted discourse.

We all know that bad things happen when there are misunderstandings between people. Relationships can be fractured. Sometimes beyond repair. Or at least seemingly so. Just because of communications. Which is why I am working toward always having undistracted communications with everybody. Sure, there will be times when I am interrupted and need to come away from whatever I am doing, but telling people to wait a moment until they can have your undivided attention is better than trying to finish something while they start talking.

Just like I know I should never even check a text message that comes when I am driving, I know that I should put away my distractions when I am communicating. After all, I know that distracted driving is dangerous to my health, and distracted discourse is just as dangerous to my relationships.

© 2019 Michael T. Miyoshi

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