I admit it, I’m an old fud. I read a daily newspaper, not a newsfeed, I write long hand, not with a voice-to-data recorder and I prefer old fashioned calisthenics over high tech fitness machines. But I am finally coming to an accommodation with my computer and the internet. And I am forging a blend of new approaches with the tried and true.
It’s not that my Dell and I don’t carry on a battle of wits (no, I won’t say who wins.) But when I can get the darn thing to do what I want, I have finally come to believe that the World Wide Web is, indeed, a many splendored thing. I never quite believed an internet guru guy who kept trying to widen my view of the webby world. However, my stint as financial columnist for the Bay Area Active Over 50 magazine (a super resource and unique publication for us still young seniors), is handled completely on line. Also, in my quest for gathering the truths of transitions, I’ve made some contacts not only cross country but across oceans.
In spite of my new appreciation for the power and reach of the computer and the internet, I still get the most satisfaction from meeting people face to face. Perhaps it is the fuddy duddy quirk that is still a part of me, but I feel that there’s a special rapport cemented from across the table smiles, nods of understanding, the eye contact glow of agreement. Certainly there’s the fun of happy interruption and whoop of delight at staccato give and take that move casual conversation toward true friendship. It’s amazing how the back and forth pacing of “talk” equals sound waves of solidarity. Within the space of a salad or sandwich lunch, I have gone from handshake to hug—a commitment of sorts for amiably “getting the goods” and filling in the blanks of someone’s life change.
I have come to appreciate that there is an evolving etiquette to internet communications; (whoever thought up those goofy emoticons?) I think it owes a debt to the old rules of genteel face to face communication. I’m no expert, but I am still trying to improve on what I think are the two most important ones: Listening and Silence.
Listening skills. As an added benefit of face to face meetings, I am honing the way I hear. The best salespeople—and all life is sales to some degree—learn early that people will tell you what they need and want, as long as the seller shuts up long enough to hear it. Therefore, listening works well to nurture friendships, marriages, parenting….
Silence. In the midst of conversation, there are times to be silent. I clamp my teeth together and endure an awkward, unfilled space, when someone (especially my children!) eagerly details recent wins, doubts, promotions, hopes, divorces, conquests, family feuds or personal failings. I scrunch my mind to capture someone’s personally turned corner or to catch another’s hop scotch journey from there to here. I stop talking because I want to sweat their small stuff—their almost forgotten missteps and risky runs at the new and different. I focus harder on the trials and errors they bump into while racking up a resume of transitions. I don’t want to miss the exact moment of their journey’s start.
My computer helps. An able adjunct, together we reach out to new friends across the city and across the country. Still, don’t be surprised if I resort to picking up the phone, or arranging a chat over coffee whenever I can. I am still practicing the gentle art of conversation and hope that you will join me.
I’m especially interested in personal tales of coping with this current financial blow to our bottom lines; the time is now to write an article sharing diverse approaches to dwindling funds and investments. One person’s strategy on how to handle the stress and surprise of this forced transition can be another person’s start to his/her own solutions. If you have a transition story that you’d like to share, drop me a note or call. I can be reached at: 650-494-7443… or…