Failure to Communicate

Washington MonumentIneffective interaction through spoken words, body language or other means, the message intended was not accurately received

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen. Ernest Hemingway

“What we got is a failure to communicate.”  The warden, “Cool Hand Luke” (Paul Newman)

The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished. George Bernard Shaw

    Effective communication is a two way street. It includes both the intended message and that the Intended message is properly understood.  If the receiver did not clearly understand what was intended, there is a “failure to communicate”. We have many failed communications. It is a very important skill to master, but so very few of us have put the time and effort into mastering it.

   There are many reasons why we “fail to communicate”. A classic example is the character played by Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. He is a chain-gang prisoner in a southern prison camp. The warden says; “what we got is a failure to communicate” after one of Luke’s unsuccessful escapes. Each time, he is caught, punished and beaten, He soon escapes again; only to go through the same routine all over. He do not “get” the “message”. All of us experience the frustration of a failed communication. The intended communication was not understood.   

     We are often guilty of thinking that is only requires the speaking of words to communicate. If this were true, we would all be effective communicators. Most of us like to hear ourselves talk but we are poor listeners. Being a good listener is required for good communications. We will have better relationships with family, friends, and others, if we are perceived to be a good listener. To be a really good communicator, listening is more important than talking. If we do not really listen and focus, chances are we will not truly understand the intended message. Others are mostly aware that we are not really listening. Both parties must listen and relate to each other. It not only includes the listening, but also sincere empathy and an intent to understand. It requires focus, concentration and being unselfish. We must truly care. Without doing these things, a failure to communicate is likely the result.

   Another aspect of good communications is the inflection of the voice, the emotions of the moment, the body language being employed, eye contact, the environment as well as other nuances. All of these contribute to good communications. We should seek to employ and master all of these components to improve our communications.

   Our relationships and interactions with others will benefit by our improved communication skills. It is one of the absolute best things we can ever put time and effort into. It will provide us with tremendous benefits.  

Challenge:  How many times have you failed to communicate? Have you failed to utilize the important tools of good communication? Chances are you know how to do this. Make a decision to improve your skills. Put your best effort into be a very good communicator. Listen intently. Speak clearly and with empathy. Be aware of non-verbal influences. It is a very good idea to repeat back to the other speaker what you think you heard them say.  

Wisdom:Communication works for those who work at it. John Powell

Spiritual: (NIV)

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  1 John 3:18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

God is always trying to communicate to us. He does listen, but we fail to listen to Him. He does not make us listen, or make us do anything. We have free will. This means freedom of choice. Just like Cool Hand Luke had to live with the consequences of his unwise actions, we must do the same. The essence of wisdom is to listen to God. How foolishly stubborn we are when we fail to realize that God loves us and only wants the best for us.

Prayer: Please help me to better communicate through my thoughts, words, listening, and actions.

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