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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Effective communication is central to human function and relationships.  Jewish sources define the human being as "the speaker". Speaking and the ability to express ourselves adequately, is what distinguishes us from the rest of the planet. 

Today, technology has made communication so much easier.  Within seconds, we can connect with thousands of people across the globe. We can talk to loved ones, have meetings and attend conferences with people wherever they might be.  

Yet, notwithstanding these opportunities, relationships seem to be weakening, not getting stronger.  There are so many marriages in trouble, dysfunctional families and an abundance of conflict.  Is modern communication maybe not so successful? 

Consider a recent email exchange I had. I purchased an iPhone prayer book app and provided my email address in order to receive updates.  

A few months later, I received an email from the app producer that read (names changed):

Roughly, seven weeks ago, our mother (the mother of Joe & Simon Goldberg) suddenly passed away while visiting Israel for her grandchild's Bar Mitzvah.

We made a FREE Jewish Children's Bedtime Shema App in her memory.

I was not interested in the new free app but was saddened by the knowledge of their loss. So I replied:

Wishing you long life

And only good things

Michoel Gourarie

Shortly afterwards I received this response:  

Thank you for you kind words regarding the Shema Bedtime App.  Please share your comments by adding a review for the App in the App Store.

I am aware that this was an automated response, which explains why it had nothing to do with my email, but I think it is indicative of the general communication style nowadays facilitated by technology.

Real human communication is the ability to talk to the world of the other person, to enter their world, to understand them and to relate to their needs. The purpose of human expression is not just to speak our own minds and transmit messages. The function of our communication is to be less absorbed in our own existence and relate more to the world of the listener. When we express ourselves in a way that the other person feels that we have understood them, empathized with them and have been sensitive to how they feel, our communication will be effective.  

Next time you have something important to communicate, ask yourself this question: Is this an automatic message from my world or is it something that will speak to the person I am talking to?


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