“Happy talk, keep talking happy talk…” This month’s topic of communication brought this little Rogers and Hammerstein tune to mind.

Talking, communication is how a lot of women understand the world. That’s true for me anyway.  This is perhaps one reason why communication breaks down between men and women. Sometimes a gal just has to talk things out. She doesn’t want solutions, nor answers; she just wants to vent. Though it seems to others (mainly men) that she is asking for help, often women find just the answer we need by talking it out.

Some of us even talk to ourselves! This is conversely attributed to both genius or madness so if you find yourself having a dialogue with one, decide which category is yours. (Genius, of course).

I just happened on a distressing article from Fortune.com alleging Americans are the unhappiest they’ve ever been. We are the most financially solid, secure; we’ve handled depressions, wars and never ending conflicts outside our borders, yet on the world stage we rate as one of the least happy people.

Fortune attributes this to increases in obesity, and substance abuse but stresses heavily that “declining physical supportive social networks, the rise of digital media and substantial decline of face-to-face interactions and how we spend our leisure time” are the biggest culprits.

I recently arrived in my second home of Amman, Jordan. Here the pace is slower and family and social meet ups are a vibrant part of the culture. Chatting away on the phone with my BFF, I realize how rarely I pick up the phone in the US just to share my day and thoughts. Sure, friends meet occasionally for coffee and catch-up, but that sustaining daily chat is missing. My talking is done mostly through my fingers and although past advice was to let our fingers do the walking though the yellow pages, obviously this is not the answer for all.

I fondly remember mornings with my mother on the patio, chatting the hours away as we watched the action at the bird feeders. Now it seems everyone only talks in short sound bites, emoji’s and worse yet, snarky tweets as each one develops her own unique brand of social media shorthand.

In past writings I’ve confessed that as a singer it was all about communication and sharing a message.  Now as a public speaker I am still promoting the spoken word. I can share articles about Islam for example on social media until the cows come home (or as it’s currently Ramadan, until it’s time to break the fast!) but you can’t beat one-on-one, face-to-face interactions.  You need to ‘feel’ the person or audience you are addressing. Facial expressions, tone of voice, the temperature of the room, and mood all affect communication and dialogue. How often when I first start a talk on Islam the room feels a little cool…folks are not sure what to expect. But it’s smiles and hugs all around by the time I conclude.  I can even address those ‘tough’ questions more convincingly in person than online. Statistics bear me out. Meeting or knowing just one Muslim, is likely to change one’s opinion about Islam considerably toward the positive. What does this tell us about our current modes of communication?

So you myna birds and parrots out there, have at it. And your communication should also include some noteworthy topics, information, real news and facts – thank you! But go easy on the gossip and hearsay. There is no reason some plain old gab, face to face, over the phone, over coffee, isn’t good for our souls!

Happy Talk from South Pacific, Rogers and Hammerstein

Fortune.com: US is Unhappiest it’s ever been  https://ncrc.org/fortune-the-u-s-is-the-unhappiest-its-ever-been/