Recently, I learned to communicate without talking, typing, texting, calling, or holding a video meeting. My newfound communication skills included messages that were much deeper than spoken or written words could ever convey.
My learning began when I set out to fulfill a lifelong ambition to feel comfortable riding horses. Little did I know how much my communication with horses would teach me about communication with humans. Let me explain.
This summer, I rode extensively and, in the process, learned something about communication and the importance of touch and contact. While mounted in my saddle with my boots secured in stirrups – supports designed to safely position our heels to communicate with our horses – I began to realize that my horse, “Cornelius,” didn’t care about my video meeting background design or whether my volume was turned up. He and I were connected as my body movements, position, and attitude told him something deeper than spoken or written words can ever convey.
Being out on the trail thinking about each body position or heel gesture, reminded me that we are still not meeting up in person as much as we should. While I don’t intend to ‘ride’ friends or colleagues, being with Cornelius did inspire me to try to interact with others more directly – to shake hands, to look others in the eye, to talk intimately and with focus. It was on the riding trails in Montana that I started to think more about other sources of stirrup-like balance and support that foster non-equine communication.
I want to travel to more meetings, really plan the right family vacations, make sure I don’t skip reunions, and just reach out to grab a coffee with someone important to me. All those interactions are a bit (pun intended) like stirrups. They support and position us to communicate in ways email, text, phone, and video just can’t match. In the same way that our bodies tell a horse where and when we want to go, our facial expressions, posture, handshakes, and tone help us convey deep ideas and more vibrant messages. I feel compelled to remind myself (and others) of the value of time together with those important to us personally and professionally. I’m feeling like it has been a little too easy to schedule that video call rather than grab a coffee or a beer in person.
As the end of summer gallops upon us, I’m declaring a new ambition to find and create those places and encounters where I can interact with the people who are important to me – in person. Just as I’ve fulfilled my horse-riding ambition, I am determined to seek out and create more sets of stirrups to support my plan to have meaningful in person interactions this fall. How about you?
Want to go for a walk or a horse ride?