Another Valentine’s day has come and gone, and sitting in a restaurant in Dubai on Wednesday night, I looked around expecting the couples there to be looking adoringly into each other’s eyes. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case where I was sitting. Instead, the iPhone, the iPad were the flavour of the evening! As I took in this prosaic scene I wondered what had happened to good, old fashioned conversation. Have it really become a thing of the past and do we really have to rely on old movies to refresh our memories as to what those precious romantic moments were really like so many years ago?

Is it that we really cannot be without technology for just an evening or has it become an unbreakable habit? We hold onto our phones like a child holds on to its dummy. I too also see myself in this category, at times. Likes Pavlov’s dog, it seems to be an automatic response to receiving a text or email. What would happen if I didn’t reply immediately? Would it really be life or death situation? The chances are it won’t and it is just a habit that I have fallen into, in the same way as other people.

Last week, I was invited to speak at DIC Toastmasters in Dubai, which I am always delighted to accept whenever possible during my trips to the GCC states. Here is an organisation that teaches communications and speaking skills. Now, you might think that there is no need for such an organisation but of course you would be wrong. We all need to be able to speak up and speak out — whether we are young or older.

Mastering the Art of Communicating


The art of communicating and speaking is a skill and it is one that is not necessarily at the top of people’s agenda either in business or in their personal life. But of course it should be. It is only by the way that we communicate and relate to others that will get us on in the world. It is only by establishing empathy with others will it take us way ahead of our competition.

Our ability to interact through electronic modes of communication is increasing at an unprecedented rate and, as a result, the world is becoming smaller.

However, as electronic advances increase people’s ability to communicate, the quality of their interaction is rapidly decreasing. This trend is especially noticeable among those young people and students who spend their lives either texting on their cellphones or instant messaging on social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace.

Many youngsters have grown used to focusing almost exclusively on themselves. They are too concerned about expressing their own likes and dislikes — what they have done, where they have been, who with and/or what objects they desire. This inordinate focus on ‘self’ has contributed to many people’s inability to communicate effectively,

This leads to a reduced ability to interact with others verbally and this lack of communication skill limits the ability to build meaningful relationships within peer groups. It has also served to widen the gap between parents and their offspring. This has also made it more difficult for important lessons and advice to be passed from one generation to the other.

Developing verbal communication is essential in order to build and maintain friendships and partnerships, and in order to progress through life because good communication skills are probably the most important attribute when seeking employment and building strong relationships. Word power is a personal tool that singles you out from others and is inevitably directly or indirectly related to how much you can earn. If you communicate poorly, that will directly affect your career prospects and your earning capacity. And that, in turn, can influence the choice of you as a marriage partner.

So you can see that having the ability to speak and to write fluently, is a little important! To do this, everyone should read books and/or magazines to increase vocabulary and general knowledge. Young people should be encouraged to pay attention to local, national and world news which will increase their interest in the world around them — and then they will have something interesting to talk and share with others.



Key points:


Texts and email can kill real conversation


Interpersonal communication skills are essential


Word power increases both your career and marriage prospects



— The author is a BBC Guest-Broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international Stress Management consultancy and her new book, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’ is available in all good bookshops.