How Listening Is An Unwritten Social Rule
Although things changed in how we socialized in a pandemic, certain rules didn’t and are needed for life
The world changed during Covid-19 and so did the social rules.
Before long the ‘Selfie’ generation was confused as they couldn’t stop in every social space and snap a picture on their phone. Instead, they had to learn that others may be around them and that if they were they’d have to look out for them. This was a huge social change for many.
But it wasn’t only as simple as that.
This age group had been born into a social media age where visual imagery dictated how successful people were. The pressure to post was huge and these digital nomads had to change their behavior for the good of others or risk a global pandemic getting worse than it was. And not every one of that age group did it.
Sure, their social norm of standing and posing for photos in every new place that they visited evaporated.
For one, they couldn’t go anywhere without legal permission and many didn’t like this. They were, as well as all age groups, forced to stay at home. But their online world didn’t cease, rather, it becomes more prevalent in their lives and was a welcome comfort in a time of real social unrest. The camera phone didn’t rest, it just transported video instead of pictures for a change.
And these big changes were the same for all people even though many weren’t as technologically reliant in the first place.
But underneath all of that, there were unwritten social rules everyone should know. For generations, the western world’s culture had abided by these rules even though there weren’t formally taught in school. All of them were based on the need for respect and how it can make another person feel welcome in different areas of life.
One such unwritten rule was the formal handshake that took a backseat during a pandemic.
As the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that there was limited knowledge on how the virus spread the fear of hand touching was very real. As the virus could be easily transmitted from person to person and many would touch their faces or noses quite easily, people had to learn to avoid clasping others’ hands when they greeted them. But people being people, an immediate replacement was the elbow touch where two people would fold their arms and touch elbows as a mark of respect when meeting another person.
And this awkward new interaction also brought a new sense of humor in greeting a new person.
Another welcoming urge was the need for many to hug a friend when they met them.
This went out the window when the pandemic hit as people had to socially distance themselves to avoid the potential for spreading the virus. But not long into the pandemic, it was clear that humans needed this form of comfort and so the virtual hug movement was born. Hug emojis replaced the pressing of the flesh and promises of real future hugs promoted conversation of how things would be better when a vaccine arrived.
And because people couldn’t visit others’ homes even simple eye contact was hard to come by.
Even though technology replaced the immediacy of being in front of someone the zoom camera on many people’s laptops was way off their eye line as they were too tempted to look lower at the other person on the other end of the screen. And even though there was some form of visual human connection eye contact was not as real or present.
And eye contact is as old as time itself.
It conveys confidence when a person is speaking to another and allows simple truths to be told when a gaze is fixed and non-fleeting. Without true eye contact, it’s clear that two people who are looking at one another may doubt each other’s words unless they have scratched the surface of what their true feelings are beneath the topic of discussion at a given time.
That’s how body language can also be more significant than the language that’s used in conversation.
For although words are important and explain exactly what a person means, they are not as strong as how our bodies mimic our underlying feelings of what we want to communicate. For words only communicate 7% and the way we say things and the tone we use is 38%. That means that the remaining 55% are transferred by visual movements we make with our bodies.
In all, that means that 93% of what we communicate to others comes from our body language.
And our innermost feelings are portrayed through different areas of our bodies even if we’re fully conscious of it or not. Simple things like crossing your arms, pursing your lips, how you stand, and what your head is doing during a human interaction will make that other person feel you are present in their conversation or not.
And if you want to be heard in life you need to listen first.
Now that’s something that’s truly unwritten as it doesn’t take a pencil or pen but the two ears that are there to balance our faces as we stand in front of another person.