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Let’s try to communicate better

Communication is essential for living and working together in a society. These days, we have more means of communication available than at any time in history. We still have face-to-face talks, letters, books, newspapers, phone calls, radio, TV. We also now have the internet and its many tools: email, streaming video, chat, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms and apps.

Communication should be easy now. Sadly, it’s not. Communication requires someone to receive what’s being communicated. Often these days, people aren’t listening to each other. I’m reminded of lyrics from a Harry Nilsson song, “Everybody’s talking at me, I don’t hear a word they’re saying, Only the echoes of my mind.” Too often, people only listen to those who think like them and dismiss (even demonize) those who think differently. When we disagree with someone, it’s easy to simply write them off as foolish, misguided, un-American, or just plain “crazy.” It’s important to recognize that people have reasons for the opinions they hold, usually rooted in their own life experiences. It’s unlikely that any two people will always agree, because no two people view life from exactly the same perspective. However, if we can learn to talk together, we can work together.

That’s why I participated in training to facilitate community discussions. We received a related grant, paying for book kits and other library materials to promote healthy discussion of issues that divide us. Our first book discussion will be Thursday, June 10, 6:30 p.m., at the Paul Fuller Playground Pavilion, about “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Really Matters” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. Come borrow a copy of the book! A virtual discussion of the book will be offered via Zoom on July 22. I’ve posted links below to videos related to the book, in case you’re interested in the discussion but don’t have time to read the entire book by next Thursday. Learning to really listen is really at the heart of the book.

If you’re interested in participating in the discussion, register at the library or by calling (814) 634-0512.

The Library Lady

Grant acknowledgment: “Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL).”

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