Moments Of Truth: Communication

Communication is the art of accurately and effectively conveying information from one person to another. Good communication is very important if people are to succeed in life. Often ego gets in the way, and because of that ego, pride and arrogance flare up, and a conversation gets out of hand. A story is told of the communication between a battleship captain and a seaman lighthouse keeper. Night was approaching, and at the same time, a very heavy storm. The captain posted extra seamen on each side of the battleship. A short time later a seaman cried out, “Light coming towards us on the starboard bow.” The captain assumed that it was an approaching ship and sent a signal. “Move twenty degrees to port; we are on a collision course.” (He had failed to ask for identification.) The answer came back, “Sir, I recommend that you turn your ship twenty degrees to port; I am not moving from my position.” The captain was angered and felt that his authority was challenged. He sent another message: “Move twenty degrees to port. I am the captain and that’s an order.” Back came the message, “Sir, with all due respect move your ship twenty degrees to port. I am a seaman.” The captain, now red in the face, answered back, “I am a battleship. Move twenty degrees to port.” The signal came back, “Sir, you must move twenty degrees to port immediately. I am a lighthouse.” The captain turned his ship and avoided a disaster and an embarrassment.

For lack of a clear communication a disaster almost occurred. “Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge.” How often in conversation people will say, “What on earth are you talking about? Can‘t you be more specific?” When pride and ego get in the way, cooperation breaks down and a retaliatory attitude sets in. People often talk in confusion because their subject was not identified. Had the lighthouse attendant first identified to the captain of the battleship that he was a lighthouse the communication would have been different. Taking a stubborn and an unyielding stance will almost always bring a disaster. Let me list nine of the worst listening habits…

1) Labeling a subject uninteresting, instead of saying, “Is he/she saying anything that I can use?”

2) Criticizing a speaker’s habit or personality instead of concentrating on the content of the communication.

3) Getting overstimulated by anger or by excitement instead of holding evaluation until the speaker has finished.

4) Listening for facts only, instead of searching for the main purpose of the communication.

5) Trying to outline everything all at once instead of hearing and postponing some of the notes for later additions and corrections.

6) Faking attention instead of paying close attention. Faking attention leads to daydreaming and it takes as much energy as good listening does.

7) Tolerating distractions instead of concentrating on the speaker and his/her communication. (A distraction could be a baby’s cry, someone moving about, or the drop of a book… even a trip to the restroom.)

8) Being unable to handle a difficult subject instead of developing an ear for difficult listening. Hearing can be trained. Learn to listen. Concentrate. Hear above the noise. Listen to what the Spirit is saying.

9) Letting emotion-laden words throw you off instead of recognizing words as tokens of expression. Notice emphasis and tone as well as the actual words.

And lastly, a poor speaking habit…

Speaking too quickly or too slowly. Some folks talk so fast that the listeners give up trying to grasp what is said, and others talk so slowly that the listener has anticipated the next point and eventually gives up altogether. Some speakers take too long to tell jokes and stories and the true message is lost. Some sermons are just jokes anyway. The Holy Spirit isn’t laughing when hurting people are needing answers and all they get is jokes.

Pastor George Belobaba

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