Sometimes Old-Fashioned Just Feels Right

Introduction from Alana:

Listen Up!  With “International I Love to Listen Day” coming up next Monday, May 16, 2016, today, I am pleased to introduce you to LaLaura Janusikura Janusik.  Laura is a dynamic professor, trainer, researcher, speaker and business consultant. She is a Professor and the McGee Chair of Communication at Rockhurst University. Laura has won numerous research and teaching awards from different professional and academic associations.

All of Laura’s work is supported by the most current research which she shares and applies in training, coaching and consulting. Her approach to communication, both oral and written, is practical and other-centered. Her research interests include listening cognition, healthcare, pedagogy, intercultural listening, and interpersonal communication.  I hope you will take time to learn more about Laura at her website: http://www.ListeningtoChange.com.

She is the past president of the International Listening Association, and is published both nationally and internationally. She holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Maryland at College Park and an MBA from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Now, let’s “listen” to Laura’s wisdom on, well, listening!

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Guest Post from Laura Janusik, Ph.D., M.B.A., CLP
Communication Consultant and Change Agent
Assistant Communication Professor at Rockhurst University

Sometimes old-fashioned just feels right. For me, the realization began a few weeks ago. My friend, Gena, posted on Facebook that she had purchased a manual lawn mower and had tried it out for the first time. She was exhausted, but she loved it. It was something I had considered for years, too, but never got around to buying one.  Realizing my lawn was very high, I tried to start my gas-powered lawn mower, and I couldn’t get it to run. So, I asked Gena if I could borrow her manual mower for the day. It took minutes to drive to her house, load it in my car, and return home. I got to mowing right away and fell in love. I fell in love with the feeling of being 10 years old again and mowing my Grandmother’s yard. I fell in love with the rhythm of the mower and the chorus of the wind blowing through the trees. I fell in love with listening to the birds chirping and the children of the neighborhood playing. I fell in love with simplicity again. I remembered how much I love to listen. Sometimes old-fashioned just feels right.

I returned the mower to Gena, and she proudly showed me how she had spent hours in her yard dividing the hostas, pulling the weeds, and making her backyard look just beautiful. I quickly exclaimed, “Gena, you should have a party just to show this off!” You see, anyone who knows me knows that I love any excuse to get people together. There’s something giddy about a face-to-face conversation.

Perhaps I’m reminded of my formative years as a child, where we went to Grandma Theresa’s house and had dinner around a large table every Sunday. We never knew which relatives would show up, how many, or when, but whomever walked through the door was greeted with sounds of laughter and love coming from that dining room table week after week. We did nothing but sit around the table and have conversations. Or, I thought we did nothing. Now I pay attention to the sounds of memories.

Flash forward decades later, and I find myself as a college professor in the Department of Communication. My area of expertise is listening, and I consider myself a listening cognitivist. I’m fascinated by how the brain makes meaning while we listen. What I recognize about my students is how uncomfortable most of them are in face-to-face communication. Skilled at the impersonal transfer of data in digital communication – testing, posting, and even old-fashioned email, they become lost in face-to-face communication. I believe they’ve never sat around their Grandmother’s dining room table and learned how to read others. I learned how and when to jump into a conversation, I learned what not to say because it hurt other’s feelings, and learned how to say something funny enough to get the whole table to laugh. I now realize that sitting around Grandma’s dining room table laid the groundwork for my future career. Sometimes old-fashioned just feels right.

I recognize that for me, face-to-face communication is critical to remembering my past, but in feeding my soul in the present. I’m not a Luddite in that I don’t dislike my computer or cell phone. However, I know it’s in face-to-face communication that we touch other’s souls and allow them to touch ours. On a telephone conversation, you can’t see a tear trickle down a friend’s face because she misses her Grandmother on Mother’s Day. The tear falls silently because she doesn’t want you to know how sad she is. On a telephone conversation, you can’t get up, walk around the table, and give your friend a hug because she really needs it.  That moment is lost over the telephone.

Today, we have to create the opportunity for those moments. Next Monday, May 16th, is the International “I Love to Listen Day!” (http://www.ilovetolisten.com/). I challenge you to come up with a way to celebrate Listening with some good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations. Perhaps it’s a no cell phones at the dining table day, taking a friend or relative to lunch or coffee day, or going really big and declaring it Media-less Monday! Figure out a way that you can connect with another in a face-to-face way. Sometimes old-fashioned just feels right.

For me, I it is a good reason to throw a party. I’m hosting a Listening Café by opening my home to a myriad of people including friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and students. There’s a no cell-phone rule, and we’ll just enjoy each other’s company. Needless to say, I’ve invited Gena. And, as for the lawn mower, I now own my own manual push mover, and I love it. And, Gena is having a Happy Hour to see her back yard tomorrow. Within a week, I’ll have two great reasons to have real face-to-face conversations with others. Because sometimes, old-fashioned just feels right.

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