Zen and the Art of Communicating Science

Last week, from my perspective, it appeared our group really enjoyed the communicating science exercise. Today I was quickly looking through Facebook posts and I noticed an article called, “Are You A Phone Person?” (http://ivyleagueinsecurities.com/2010/08/are-you-a-phone-person/) This article caught my eye because once upon a time I was a huge phone person. I would talk for hours at a time to my best friend, my mom, my sister and anybody else that wanted to talk. Now I hate the phone. I rarely talk on the phone and most of the time I let messages go to voicemail. The reason I’m bringing up last week’s exercise and this silly article on Facebook is because I feel like there’s a common theme.

Let me explain.

What I found interesting about last week’s communicating science workshop is that it really could have been called communicating as humans with humans. It really wasn’t about science at all. What I took away from the experience was it was a chance for all of us wired folks to unplug, look at each other in the eye and connect. Boy, it was hard at first. Our coach even said our group appeared to be especially anxious. I think one reason for this is because with laptops, tablets, iPhones, etc. we can go about our day without looking at too many people in the eye or feeling vulnerable. I’ve sat in many classrooms over the past couple of years where instead of getting to know my fellow classmates, I check email, Facebook, the weather, etc. until the teacher begins the lecture. I know a lot of other people do this too. The article gets at the same thing, it is basically a blog post by a person who has noticed herself not being a phone person anymore because of social media. Although she poses a few questions at the end wondering perhaps if social media is changing our human connections/communication in a problematic way. I wonder about this too.

By the end of the workshop last week, I felt like my group had bonded. We were talking, joking and sharing stories with each other. Without the workshop, without the focused connecting, listening, and being “present” exercises, I don’t think that would have otherwise happened. In the big picture, spending two hours learning how to connect, bond, and communicate, would pay dividends to interdisciplinary teams working towards the same goal. Perhaps this should be a part of any type of “Team Science” curriculum?

For me, the lesson learned from both last week and the article is that even though its not always easy to pick up the phone or connect with people, I usually never regret it.