The Value of Face-to-Face Relationships

“Most people’s idea of listening is simply waiting until the other person has finished talking so they can share the reply they’ve been rehearsing.  For most of us our egos are screaming so loudly we have no ears to hear what anyone else is saying.  Most people just can’t listen well.  So many messages and advertisements and pieces of information bombard us each day that it makes our heads spin. There have never been so many useless distractions available to human beings.  It all clutters our minds and consumes our energy.  This makes attention such a profoundly scarce and premium commodity.  And with everything we’re processing, we just don’t have that much attention left over for the people who are speaking to us.  That’s a crime because they feel it.  One of the deepest of all human hungers is the hunger to be understood.  We all have a voice inside of us.  We all want to express it.  And when we feel that someone’s taken the time to hear and acknowledge it, we open ourselves up to that person.  Our trust, respect, and outright appreciation for that person soars.”

—  The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma.

Have you ever been in a restaurant or a coffee shop and seen the people at the table looking at their mobile phones instead of each other, and texting instead of talking?  It is common to see people sharing the same space and looking at their mobile devices instead of one another!  Further, it has gotten so bad that people are even engaging in texting/Facebooking while doing things like driving when they should be paying attention to the road and being aware of their own safety and that of others.

When I read the above passage, all I could think of is how the Mini School itinerary makes students interact with others, face-to-face.  The students in the Mini School, and other cohort based programs/teams/etc. must travel, work and plan and problem-solve together, and even work out their differences.  I believe more than ever that practicing face-to-face interactions is imperative.  It is as if mobile devices and connectedness, and their over-use, are eroding face-to-face communication skills right before our eyes.  By interacting face-to-face, students are forced to practice their communication skills and the articulation of their thoughts.  In education and business, I believe it is relationships that fuel their forward movement, and it is through successful face-to-face interactions that these relationships are solidified.

With all the above said, I, too, am connected and use a variety of technology and mobile devices.  The internet and tools, like this blog, are very useful and I do believe that they should be in our students’ toolbox for the future.  However, as attractive the technology movement is at the moment, let’s not forget the face-to-face interactions that allow us to feel higher and genuine levels of trust, respect, and appreciation for one another.  There is no substitute for sharing the time and space with others.  As for our students, those who succeed at becoming trustworthy and respect-worthy through effective face-to-face interaction will surely have an edge in the competitive world that awaits them.

In an age that is rapidly becoming more technological, virtual and faceless, our Mini School students have the “luxury” of spending time away to develop vital interpersonal skills that are too often ignored.

– Mr. Bernie Soong



About bsoong

Vice Principal at Gladstone Secondary School in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Son, husband and father. Sports and movie fan.
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