Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of words that are spoken but not so many words that are understood?  We human beings spend a lot of time using our mouths, but not so much our ears.  And yet, God gave us ONE mouth and TWO ears.  Doesn't that mean we should do twice as much listening as talking?  I must admit that I have been working on this concept for quite a while now.  Thus the reminder on my desk:  Be still and know that I am God.

Even when we think we've listened, we find out we didn't listen well.  Just ask any two people the contents of a recent conversation and you may be surprised to find that you get two very different answers.  While neither party intended to misunderstand, it happened!  As a teacher of the English language to non-English speakers, I can attest to the fact that this language we speak is extremely difficult to understand. First, words have more than one meaning, so you must listen to the context in which the word is spoken to understand it's particular meaning.  Second, the non-verbal messages given at the time the word was spoken may provide an entirely different meaning to the word than the speaker intended or was even aware he was giving. 

Even when the two (or more) people that are included in the conversation speak the same language, we find that the words that are used may have very different meanings to each of the listeners.  Based on our own life lessons, or paradigms as Stephen R. Covey calls them, we "hear" our own interpretation of the words through the events of our lives.  We must understand this dilemma as we attempt to communicate with those around us.  Many times I have had a conversation in which I was certain I was clear in what I was conveying only to learn later that, while the listener heard the words, they did not hear my message, my meaning.

Which brings me to this on-line  'thing' we all do.  Our young people (and a lot of older people) utilize this method of communication almost exclusively and have created a 'shorthand' all their own for it.  I understand their need to be different than we older folks, but I wonder just how effective this type of communication really is?  Can we really 'hear' and understand the meaning of the words when this is the primary method of communication?  I know, from personal experience, just how much MIS-communication can take place because the reader interpreted my writing into her own paradigm. 

Please don't misunderstand me...I am not saying that communicating on-line is a bad thing.  What I am saying is that ANY time we try to communicate, we must be vigilant in making certain that our true meaning has been heard.  We, as listeners, must ask questions to be clear so that our communication is effective and two-way.  This is true no matter what type of communication we use.  Far too many misunderstandings have taken place simply because we "heard" something that was never said. 

I am in the process, with a couple of friends (one friend is also a cousin), of creating a new business opportunity that will begin with a blog and, hopefully, grow from there.  We are all spread across the country as we attempt to do this so all communication is on-line at this point.  I am reminded daily of the necessity of always "seeking first to understand, then be understood" (thank you Dr. Covey!).  Maybe this is a practice we should all begin to use.  What would happen to our world if this was the mantra we all shared? 

Do you believe in miracles?

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