I have a saying. “When messages get crossed and the information is lost, Little Miss Communication reared her ugly head.”
That’s a play on words …… miscommunication.
Long ago I wrote a letter. I didn’t think there was anything offensive in the language but it created an explosive response. The person to whom it was sent showed up on my doorstep and proceeded to give me a tongue lashing for my unkindness. Once I apologized and explained what was meant, the friend calmed down and confessed that maybe he had overreacted a little.
I later went to my pastor and asked him to help me understand what I had written that could have created such a negative response. After he read a copy of the letter, he said to me, “This is the most scathing letter I’ve ever read.” I couldn’t believe my ears! It was outrageous! How could my words have been so misunderstood?
He explained. Other than no word at all, what frequently contributes the most to miscommunication is the written word. What?! Why? Because the other person can’t see or hear you; your message is easily misconstrued.
They can’t see your mouth. They don’t know if you’re wearing a smile or a frown.
They can’t hear the inflections and the tone of your voice. They can’t hear the snicker that just escaped in amusement. They don’t know if you are speaking loudly with anger or softly in a whisper.
They can’t see your eyes, bright and cheerful or red from lack of sleep.
They can’t see your forehead. Is it wrinkled with worry or raised in interest?
They can’t see your hands that are folded calmly in front of you or pounding on your desk in frustration.
The whole body sends messages and humans communicate in many ways other than just words.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV)
13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the written word. The Bible is God’s written words. I write every day, using this blog site as a method to speak my mind. As long as the words are received and applied correctly and there’s no confusion then everything is fine.
But if I have something really important to say, something that carries a strong message and I want to be certain that it isn’t misinterpreted, I won’t use email, or a text, or even a written letter. I learned that lesson the hard way.
If I have something important to say, I say it in person.
My mug is filled with a fresh hot brew! Here’s to great beginning of a new week!