I was speaking with Mom on the phone. “We had a nice restful weekend, which we really needed.”
“Your next four weekends are all booked?” Her voice lifted at the end of her question, clearly expressing her concern with my lack of planning for rest times.
Communication goes both ways–my speaking, her hearing. Due to an infection, my voice is a bit shaky and sometimes words drop away into nothing. Mom has hearing challenges. Together, we have some mighty interesting, and funny, conversations!
How many times do we misunderstand, either the words or intent, of a conversation? This morning I received an email asking if the writer was being deliberately left out of a communique. I hastened to answer, “absolutely not!” and to explain why only certain individuals received that particular message. It’s so easy to misread others’ intentions. And when that happens, I can get irritated, annoyed, or I can respond with love and patience to clarify.
Don and I drove to the shopping center together the other day. He was going to look for birthday cards at CVS; I for groceries at Nob Hill. As we drove, I asked him a question. I must have been feeling insecure that day because I wanted assurance of his love.
“Hmmm, a more ringing endorsement than ‘yes, sure’ would be appreciated.”
“My mind’s just not in the same place as yours.”
Oh boy. I could have flipped out. I could have cried. I could have thought he wasn’t attracted to me that day–or ever (you know how our brains sometimes take a statement and make it an impasse …) I’ve done all these things in the past.
Instead, I asked, “What do you mean by that?” Then, sensing his frustration, I continued. “I’m not trying to put you on the spot, honey. I want to understand so my mind doesn’t make your comment something it’s not meant to be.”
Don was thoughtful. “Well, I’m thinking of driving and the heavy traffic. I’m hoping I can find meaningful greeting cards. I’m wondering when I’ll get the rest of the lawn mowed. I’m just not thinking romance right now. But I love you completely.”
Ha! “Got it. OK.”
Such a small example, but so easy to get insecure, uptight, or angry, rather than seeking to understand the other’s point of view! Clarifying helps us to speak the truth in love as we mature in Christ…and in our relationships.
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Eph. 4:15
When’s the last time you experienced miscommunication, and how did you respond? How could you respond better?