Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:20-21

Epic Communication Fail

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On my soapbox!

In an interesting, intriguing, vaguely amusing, case of twenty-first century irony, we live in The Information Age while failing miserably when it comes to effective communication.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but I believe the two key culprits are poor listening skills and a lack of functional facility when it comes to understanding and utilizing the English language.

  • Poor Listening skills.
  • A lack of functional facility when it comes to understanding and utilizing the English language.

A number of important things happen when we are active listeners: We communicate care and respect; we begin to break down the barriers; we increase the likelihood the other person will listen to us; we learn a lot; we are forced to reevaluate the assumptions we carry in with us; we begin to understand the other’s point of view… and so much more.

Then, once we begin to listen to one another, it’s important that we actually communicate. One of the key inhibitors of clear communication (other than an unwillingness to listen) is the all too frequent, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means….”

In consequence (and this turns out to be another aspect of active listening) we need to define our terms. We especially need to do this now that The Information Age has morphed into The Soundbite Age. Soundbites are loaded with keywords – but that only adds to the miscommunication when my definition of a keyword is different than yours.

Liberal and Conservative:

Take “Liberal” for example. This word is often used as a pejorative, and it is frequently is loaded with negative baggage – as if being “liberal” by definition includes being a socialist, a communist, an atheist, unAmerican, against freedom, and a sworn enemy of the Constitution.

What “liberal” really means is:

  • open to new behavior and opinions;
  • concerned with broadening general knowledge and experience;
  • marked by generosity;
  • being favorable to or in accord with concepts of individual freedom to the greatest extent, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties;
  • favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression…

“Conservative” means – in short:

  • Believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society;
  • marked by moderation and caution;
  • averse to change and holding to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.

Yet people refuse to listen to one another, there is resistance to doing our own research and learning the truth, and – much of the time – we don’t even know the real meaning of the words we throw around so glibly.

In consequence we fail to communicate, and we fail to meet in common ground, and we fail to know one another, and we fail to work together, and we fail to get anything done out of fear that we’re selling out…

The Secret:

What the manipulators and the extremists don’t want us to know (and are fearful that we will discover) is that most Americans live on that common ground, and 90% of us want the same thing, and that what a conservative wants and what a liberal wants generally work nicely together if only we listen to one another in respect.

The secret to making all this work is compromise. Or, as the Bible puts it so well in two helpful references:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:20-21

Let’s be thinking people, friends; let’s not allow ourselves to be force fed misinformation any more; and let’s listen with open spirits – DEREK

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