Do You Employ Effective Communication?

Category: Weekly Columns

I’m old enough to remember using rotary phones, having a pen pal, and Black and White TV with no remote, or a remote that was wired and did almost nothing. My boys have grown up with computers, Facebook, music “sharing” first with Napster and then so many others, Twitter, and Social Media. How they communicate is so much different than when I was their age. How we all communicate now is so varied. Do you think you employ effective communication?

I always had best friends in Junior and High School. We’d talk on the phone for hours. I remember getting “caught” on something I said when my mom picked up an extension line. I never got over that and still need privacy when I’m on the phone, especially if it’s something important and/or personal. It is amazing how we parents impact our kids and leave lasting impressions – good and bad!

During my show-biz career, I had a couple of adult best (male) friends. The one that was in the entertainment world with me I spoke to EVERY day on the phone. The other one, who was my best friend from high school, I spoke with several times a week.

We actually got together, too! Before our respective marriages, we’d go to dinner, movies together, screenings, throw and go to parties, and have a real life versus anything “virtual,” a word that wasn’t even commonly used then. The peak of my career was in the 1980’s and I had a blast. The economy was thriving and the perks I was blessed to have from my career were incredible.

I had a more-or-less unlimited expense account, flew first-class, stayed at 5-star hotels, attended events in exotic locations, and made television literally all over the world. I went to China before it was much open to Westerners, invited by their government and a film society there. It was awesome. I went to Brazil and had the equivalent of 50-yard-line seats at Carnival and had an adventure in the Amazon right out of The Emerald Forest (a 1985 movie by John Boorman).

It was different times, for sure. I have one showbiz memory of how times were changing that stands out and relates to how we all communicate now. We were filming a TV movie in Toronto during the winter. The scene was of a group of homeless people in an alleyway huddled around a trashcan fire. I, along with all the crew, was bundled up with layers of winter clothes and I was wearing newly bought Sorels, the reputably indestructible winter boots. I still have and wear those boots today – a quarter century later!

Cell-phones were pretty new then and were the size of a brick. I had one. I distinctly remember being totally in awe when I was in the snowy cold of Toronto, on the set of my movie, talking to an exec at ABC via this new-fangled portable device.

Look where we are now?

So, I come back to the question of “Do you employ effective communication?” I no longer even like talking on the phone, landline or cell, with the notable exception of when I’m driving for any length of time. That is when I reach out to friends and family and enjoy the distraction and connection.

Otherwise, I prefer texting, email, and twitter. I can answer when I want, as much or as little as I want, and I can ignore something usually without causing any offense. I can multi-task, again often without the person having any idea I’m barely paying attention. I like that, too.

My boys are only three years apart yet they communicate with their friends and me differently. My 18-year-old likes to talk on his cell-phone, Skype with his buddies, and text occasionally. His younger brother is all text, all the time. Both can’t do ANYTHING without listening to music. Both hate driving without playing music from their iPod or iPhones.

When my parents were still alive, I had to adapt to their traditional method of living IRL*, which was special to both of us, and included using only landline phone calls.

What is your preferred method of communicating? How do you communicate differently with your spouse, friends, family, and kids?

*In Real Life