We live in a very confusing world. We seem to
be most confused by the details of our relationships with others. We
humans are most challenged in our interpersonal communications. The
main problem is the different meaning we place on the words we use.
As a pilot I like the illustration of the depressed copilot. The
pilot had been trying to cheer him up prior to takeoff without
success. During the takeoff roll he looked over at the copilot and
said, "Come on, cheer up!" Amid the noise of the engines the copilot
thought he said, "Gear up," so he lifted the switch to the UP
position. They both watched helplessly as the airplane settled on
its belly in the middle of the runway!
Your miscommunications may not cause an
airplane wreck but I have seen relationships and friendships wrecked
by misunderstandings. If it weren't for all those confusing words
we'd all communicate better! You know those words; love, commitment,
truth, etc. Our human traits make it even more difficult. Many
experts believe that only 7% of effective communication happens
through hearing. Over 70% comes from visual signals such as body
language, surroundings, etc. Yet our society continues to find more
ways to communicate without personal contact. The written word has
been around forever. We now have Email, Texting, Twitter, Facebook,
and other social media that I don’t understand.
When I was a minister I was once on a lay-over
at the Kansas City Airport. I remember attaching a keyboard to my
smart phone and getting some work done, answering emails, etc. I
know, I know, I was part of the problem too! But, while I was there
a man named Michael asked to share my table. He asked what I do for
a living. When I talked about Single Adult Ministry at my church I
saw his countenance change and his eyes sadden as he shared about
his recent divorce and asked for my advice. He and his wife were
both Christians but still made poor choices en route to marital
failure. They had stopped communicating and couldn't understand each
other. SEEING him and HEARING him helped me to better understand and
recommend an appropriate action. In this case social media would
have been inadequate to help Michael.
Many people misunderstood Jesus. Even the
disciples didn't always 'get it.' In Matthew 13 Jesus told the
parable of the sower. The disciples got him aside, and asked for an
explanation. In verse 9 he had said, "Those who have ears, let them
hear." Most everybody has ears! But, I think he meant, "Those who
are willing to shut out the world and concentrate on what is
important, they will be able to hear the truth." He went on to say
in verse 16 that they were blessed because they wanted to see and
hear the truth he was sharing.
Common Sense Application
1. Remember, personal contact is always the
best way to communicate. When the conversation gets serious, stay
away from email and social media. Instead, meet with the person!
2. When communicating in person be sure to look
the other person in the eye and work hard at actively listening. God
gave us two ears but only one mouth; there must be a lesson there!
3. Be clear and honest in your own
communication with others, especially in your communication with
God. He will always listen and understand.