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Seven Minute Rule – Restoring face to face Conversations
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 10/19/2015

Cellphone darts
Every conversation has a purpose and every moment you spent talking to someone has a cause and effect that is based on the human values of your own emotions and intended consequences of such face to face interactions. Hence, this is where a text, voicemail or any other digital message can ruin a good relationship or cause a misunderstanding.

Every change I have experienced since the invention of the telephone has had consequences on the effectiveness of the different types of communication between humans and if mishandled or abused, can cause serious consequences for you. Communication contains elements of a person’s willingness to be exposed to information that might make you vulnerable to some kind of harm even with unintended purposes.

Technology does not respect the human heart or mind and does not contain emotion like a voice or tone can. This makes a face to face moment a better tool to communicate than an Iphone or any other digital device you may use today. These days, our family and friends have chosen to use digital dynamics instead of verbal face to face conversations, makes texting a convenience and not always appropriate in some cases as the manner used facilitates the ability to escape personal responsibilities by using time and space as disengagement tools.

After all, we are creatures possessed with emotion and the digital age has taken some of those qualities away from us as we depend on technology to communicate our daily tasks and events with a little too much dependence on less emotion and less empathy in our relationships. It has been my experience that every change in technology facilities emotions and or frustrations. Regardless which way you look at this, our human values are always challenged. We can see how texting or the use of digital communications such as emails; can make face to face conversation less of a priority as it is easier to disconnect the conversation at will.

In my opinion, it is time to start reclaiming some of those face to face conversations today. The manner technology is used today focuses on distance and solitude that may harm relationships in the long run. Although I understand this change can’t happen overnight, one should begin to slow down on the use of these devices as their main tools to communicate and restore conversations as they used to be before the advent of the digital age. This would also require a change in how we do things as we have become creatures of multitasking while talking or texting a message to supposedly save time or money.

In every aspect of our lives, this change will increase performance and decrease stress. I realize that doing one thing at a time is hard, especially today; multitasking feels productive in the short term but does not always makes things faster done or better prepared. Our most modern technology has encouraged detachment and as humans, we have a basic need to be either wanted or needed by someone in our life. We have made our phones, computers and other digital device our main source of communication and not as mere accessories. They are beginning to represent who or what we are and that is often easily misunderstood.

We are using this technology to protect ourselves from psychological and physical harm. We construct a mental distance between others on purpose. However, it decreased vulnerabilities and gives you a false sense of confidence to speak your mind. In order to restore attachment, empathy and at the same time, avoid solitude, we have to commit ourselves to designing our products and our lives to take that vulnerability into account. We can choose not to use our phones or other devices all the time. We can choose to put them away for a while and restore our basic human values even with a severe addiction by doing it for the sacred purpose of re-establishing human values and virtues of a face to face conversation.

Unlike using a device, we can become more understanding by listening to others in person and avoid many misunderstandings. Sometimes it simply means hearing people out. It takes at least seven minutes to see how a conversation is going to unfold. The seven minute rule to follow is you can’t go to your phone before those seven minutes are up. If the conversation goes quiet, you have to let it be and let the seven minutes expire. Even digital exchanges have “dropped moments” and silence or a break as the other person thinks of a response. This is natural and should be part of any conversation – digital or face to face. It is during these pauses of our minds, we learn more about the other person.

Face to face conversation teaches you more about your own vulnerabilities, your time management skills and your level of patience. It is quite revealing if you let it happen. Being unlike a ready made app or device, you can respond at your own convenience and think about what you want to say; what a concept to use as a human value. Life is already quick and efficiently made by those devices around you. Why not use your natural abilities to make it better and enjoying life at the same time.

In order to get pleasure from life, talk to someone for at least seven minutes and learn more about yourself and others. It is well worth the effort in the long run and is guaranteed to bring about new revelations about your relationships. Conversation can change behaviors and attitudes; it builds empathy and friendships and in many cases, a new level of trust. Reclaiming your time pushes for rebuilding your own existence and teaches you about the complexity, flexibility and contingency of your personality and life. Isn’t it time for you to change how you communicate in your world?

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

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