We grow up learning to communicate in different ways. Our experiences all play a part in not only how we internalize what we hear and see, but also how we respond to external stimuli.
To go a step further, our mood, our immediate surroundings and our family/relationship dynamics all play a part in what goes on in our hearts and in our minds before our mouths have a chance to utter a word.
For some of us (me included), we speak before we think. The mouth is quicker than the brain. We send that crucial message to the brain that says, “Don’t speak. Keep quiet and think first.” Unfortunately the brain has gotten the message after the lips are moving and the damage is done. This is called communication breakdown.
So why are we talking about this today? Look around. Our world is in chaos. There is fighting going on everywhere. It’s not just happening with other countries, it’s happening in our own neighborhoods, in our churches. It’s happening within our own families.
People are leaving their communities; the divorce rate continues to climb; church attendance is declining; kids leave home and never return. We have a major communication gap going on in our world right now.
What’s going on here, People?
We (again, myself included) are so quick to play the blame game when our communication goes wrong. Personal accountability is becoming a thing of the past. We all think we are great communicators, right?
Communication is a skill to be mastered over a lifetime yet so many people today have a conversation that goes badly and they are ready to end a relationship; they quickly post a scathing rant on their favorite social media outlet for the entire world to see; for friends and strangers alike to join in on.
When did this become socially acceptable?
Communication is two-sided. At it’s best, communication involves two active listeners who are invested in the other party’s feelings. Communication used to be face to face. You could see the other person; be mindful of their body language and their facial expressions and all of their other non-verbal ques that tell you so much more than words ever could or would.
At the very least you used to hear the person’s voice if you were not able to communicate face-to-face. You’d know when something was wrong and you could respond to solve the problem.
Two Main Communication Issues Today
- First, with all the technology we have, it’s nearly impossible to have two active listeners. If you are out in public right now, look around you. How many people do you see right now actively engaged in a conversation without a cellphone/computer/tablet? Does anyone even see two people looking at each other?
We’ve forgotten how to communicate face-to-face. This is what we are really saying to people when we talk to them with technology in our hands:
I’m listening to you right now – kind of – but I’m also monitoring my calls, texts and emails, and should something come in, you will get bumped or put on hold for that.
Does this make you feel valued? How about loved? Do you feel respected? Would you want to share your secrets and dreams with this person?
- Second, because we have forgotten how to communicate face to face, we are now hiding behind our technology.
There is an entire generation who has no idea what it’s like to sit down with someone and receive a critique on their performance during an annual appraisal or be given constructive feedback by a parent (or teacher) to help them with their future.
Instead of a conversation being motivational and seen as a chance to grow and discuss opportunities to improve, people have no idea how to deal with this uncomfortable new emotion. They run away. It’s seen as confrontational and upsetting instead of as motivational and helpful; a starting point for growth.
Why? Technology does not talk back. There is no emotion. But it also does not teach us life skills needed that all people will need in jobs, in marriage, in raising children and for the rest of one’s life.
When I was young, communication – the old-fashioned kind – was how we learned about people. This is how we related to others. Oftentimes this is how parents and grandparents passed skills from one generation to another. It’s how you learned about the people who were most important in your life before they were gone.
Does anyone else feel like this has slowly been dying? It may already be dead.
When did we stop listening to hearts and caring about people? Every year I get older, I understand less. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.
Learning Communication Skills
How do we get past this enormous obstacle? Forgiveness has to be on the table. We need to get to know who people are, not who we want or need them to be. In this Instant Gratification Society we live in, this can be very hard to overcome. When people don’t meet our expectations, we leave them behind.
People are put in our lives for a reason. Think before you close that door. One day you may be standing all alone with nothing left but the memories of the people you’ve left behind.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
Make a Choice to communicate. Sounds simple, right? But it’s not. Just like any relationship, it takes time and energy. It takes commitment. Good marriages and good relationships don’t just happen, just like a good crop doesn’t just happen. THEY TAKE TIME AND ATTENTION. They take nurturing.
Do they take a constant outpouring of love? Only you can answer that question based on the damage that’s been done. And just like a garden, if you let the weeds creep in; if you let disease take over, you will need to start from scratch to rebuild or repair. But in the end, you will be so glad you did.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Do you have a relationship that’s suffering right now because of a communication issue? How are you solving it?
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Keep the Faith,