Let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. – D&C 88:122
I admit it: I’m antisocial. It used to be a little badge of shame. Now, I don’t mind it. It’s part of my identity. That’s who I am.
When I do talk with people in my imperfect way, there’s a very old-school technique I strive to employ. I try to use a scriptural word that appears hundreds, if not thousands of times in scripture. It is this: listen.
I find that people I enjoy talking with also employ this technique and do so effectively.
I have been disappointed to find over and over again that among people of my demographic (mid 20s to mid 30s), there are people who lack the interest in, much less skill of, listening.
Don’t get me wrong. Some listen very well. But there are many who do not, and put very little effort in doing so.
Not listening is a significant communication problem. One related problem is interrupting. Tuning out to someone’s droning is one thing, but wilfully interrupting a conversation or a sentence is a whole other level of rudeness. Butting into a conversation when uninvited is similarly rude and could even be considered an invasion of privacy. Giving unnecessary and unwanted glares is an unspoken method of rude expression, though common in society, especially here in the midwest.
Over the centuries, private discussion between individuals has led to conventions of conversation. We call these manners. They have been a safeguard to keep people civil and communication effective and humane.
In general, the state doesn’t care too much for manners. The IRS doesn’t seem too grateful for our taxes. Nor do say “Excuse me” when a tax increase comes along, nor ask our permission. They have monopolistic privileges, so it’s understandable. (That’s not to say that people who work for the state never have manners, for humane people do and will work in large bureaucratic organizations of all stripes, including governments.)
It is sad to see the rising generation discounting manners. Respect and reverence in general have declined. This is evident in the Church, where reverence and grooming, to name two examples, have degraded now compared to a generation ago. A normal Sunday makes me wonder whether we are running a daycare or a Church. Occasionally I wonder if we run a zoo.
Why are manners important? Here’s one line of thinking: consider the damage one ill-spoken word can do. We have all had experiences with one or two hurtful words. Then multiply this a thousandfold to get some idea of how damaging and hurtful our communication can be when we refuse to follow the conventions used to protect each other: manners.
We need a return to old-school politeness, manners, reverence, and respect, especially with respect to interpersonal communication. It’s a simple way of maximizing personal and social benefit, and in these tough times, we need all the help and support we can get.