Saturday, March 7, 2015

Communication. It's a BIG deal.

“Communication.  It’s a big deal.” 

I posted this Facebook status a few days ago in response to some very frustrating communicationless days.  But then I got to thinking about the implications of the words as I preached to the girl in the mirror.

I may be a writer, but I’m not a very good communicator. 

I don’t like the sound of my voice and I often struggle with saying the right words.  When I’m tired, for example, the words in my brain get tangled and I will say one thing when I’m thinking another.  That happens also when I’m solving a problem in my mind, but trying to talk about something else. 

I am capable of speaking in front of a group, but the front is not my favorite place to be.  I like to sit back, observe, consider, analyze.  If I’m going to speak before a group, I like to have good warning.  That way I can map out my words in writing first.

Because to me, writing is so much easier!  I love the delete key, the backspace key, the cut function.  Throw those words and letters into oblivion when they don’t present properly!

But when you’re communicating vocally, you can’t take words back.  Sound waves caused by spoken words resonate forever, unending. 

I struggle with harsh, sharp, uncompromisingly sarcastic words.  I don’t mean to be mean, but it’s hard for me to consider the impact of my words when they are so black and white in my thoughts.  If you do this, then THAT should happen so …. What did you expect to have happen? 

Oy.  Some Christian.  So much for compassion.  *sigh*  

Email and Instant Messaging and Facebook status communication is a whole different level of communication with exaggerated importance when you live on the other side of the planet.  It’s incredible the weight and significance of words becomes when you are waiting for them. 

You find yourself measuring time by wake/sleep cycles.  “They won’t respond to my message now because they are sleeping, but when I get from work, they should be awake and then I can check again.”

And then, when the worst case scenario actually becomes reality and your internet is DOWN for five days, you look for alternatives in a desperate attempt to get information.   That’s when you realize how tightly you cling to words.

Recently my mom had some health issues and the importance of communication resonated loudly in my days.  I am not in Milwaukee.  I cannot ask my own questions.  I must rely on someone else to tell me something.  To them, it’s a routine thing because they are there and can get the answers any time.  For me, it’s a critical, frustrating, cycle of non-communication!!!

That was, of course, when our home internet was down for an entire week-end. 


It was like a climax in an adventure, thriller where the stalked one screams loudly at the top of their lungs!  AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Screaming is a form of communication that doesn’t really work well, however.

It was as though God was trying to get my attention to make me ponder communication.  And so, of course, I did.

I thought about how I struggle with communicating with my students’ parents who don’t speak English.  I’m always trying to find an interpreter and praying they use the right words to convey my message.  I hope I’m not failing.

I considered how I communicate with my students and whether I’m too harsh, too loud, too strong, too demanding as I try to balance their need to learn academic and spiritual and life lessons in the span of a few short hours a day.   I pray I’m not doing this wrong.

The chaos that comes from miscommunication, misunderstood phrases, unspoken information is the root of all frustration and conflict.  It’s exaggerated when you are trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language.   This problem is my own fault for not learning Russian.  I shoulder this blame alone.

I reviewed how I communicate with my family in the States through e-mail, IMessages, FaceTime and Skype chats and sought to discover if I put too much – or too little – importance on the frequency and sincerity of these sessions.  I don’t want to interrupt their lives, but I so want to know every detail.  I know I’m missing a lot of their moments.  I struggle with maintaining a right balance for their sake and mine.

I contemplated how I communicate – or fail to communicate – conflicts and disagreements around me.  I am terribly passive/aggressive when it comes to dealing with problems.  I know it’s something I have to work on if I’m going to be in any kind of leadership position.  Another reason I chose to be in the back of the room and not the front.  I would much rather follow than lead.  Age has caught up to me, however, and I’ve become a leader just because I have survived more years than many of my colleagues. 

I thought of how people communicate with me, or not.  The laughter they share in 144 characters, Facebook responses of encouragement, the e-mails of grace showing they think of me.   The resonance of silence.

And then there are the letters and cards and notes from my students.  They wrap me up in kindness blanketing me in their loving phrases. 

Communication is a big deal.  Whether you are near or far.  If the message is good or bad.  Don’t hold your words in.  Communicate. 

Proverbs 25:11 (CEV)
11 The right word at the right time
    is like precious gold set in silver.

Please, God, help me to have the right words.