The ability of the human mind to imagine abstract concepts and work towards making it a reality has been critical in the evolution of human kind. Language has played an instrumental role in this relentless march of humanity. It provides us the ability to communicate our thoughts, feelings and desires, helping people understand our point of view and state of mind. Language brings people together.

Today’s new modes of communication – email, chat, text have gotten people hyper-connected but has made communication complex. We may appear to be connected all the time to a friend or parent or spouse or family member but are not.

There are six friends with whom I chat daily, and know every detail of what goes on in their lives and vice versa. So much so that if I don’t come online within 4 hours past the usual time, there will frantic calls to check if doomsday has arrived in my life and all is well 😊. One solace is that if I ever go missing when I travel solo, someone will raise the panic button. With free WIFI being available everywhere, there is no excuse to not check-in during travel too!!

It is only when I meet my friends face to face or see them on video (better than just texts) that it hits me how much I missed reading between the lines on chat even with emojis – the tiredness on the face or the cat got the canary look are dead giveaways. Earlier this year, I met my friend, who lives in Bangalore. Though we live in the same city, we had met 6 months ago at the beginning of the year. Though my friend seemed to have all her ducks in a row (as perceived on chat), in reality the daily struggle had taken a toll on her health. If I had seen her earlier, I could have admonished her earlier and pushed her to slow down. She could have had a better life sooner!! Last week, I met a friend (who is one of my six close WhatsApp buddies), in person after over two years. While leaving she said – “You have changed so much! You are much more direct and have no nonsense attitude now 😊 “.

An interesting aspect of today’s chat era is the new lingo emerging with shortened words and use of emojis. The abbreviated words are creating new languages and soon language may not be usable for communication especially across generations. Ironic indeed. Emojis are so many that some of them are difficult to comprehend especially without reading glasses. 😇. So even if someone communicates their feelings with emojis, it may not be interpreted rightly by the reader.

While being virtually connected is better than no communication, do make time to meet a person face to face or at least call – if not video then audio. Last week I spoke to my friend who has purchased a new home and is going to move into it by end of June. I had seen pictures of the house and a video too. But the true joy was heard only in her voice, when we spoke on phone.

Virtual contact with people separated by continents or by traffic, can be forgiven. But often in a household too there is no communication between individuals apart from that required for the routine grind. As we go through the daily grind of life, familiarity and conflicting priorities can potentially lead us to a stage where we seem connected to a person, but actually are far from knowing what is going on in the person’s mind!!!

Make time to talk and when you do, pay attention not just to the words, but to other aspects that you may miss. These aspects actually reveal a lot about the person’s state of mind, attitude towards you and life.

 The stance, the gait, the shoulders drooping or straight
 Tell a lot about the person’s state

 The fidgeting, the shifting, the drifting eyes
 Speak volumes of your inability to cut ice

 The glare, the raised eyebrows, the shake of the head
 Notice them to be in good stead

 The silence, the unshed tears, the unspoken words
 Say much more than spoken words
 The tears of joy, the tears of sadness, the tears of grief
 Show how the person is affected inside deep

 The outbursts, the outpouring, the angry words
 Reveal true feelings to be heard

 The shaking voice, the trembling tone, the halting speech
 All say don’t beseech 

 So, listen with your ears and open your eyes and heart 
 You will be heard more than you seek.