Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Say What?

Communication is everything!  Just ask the cake decorator in New Zealand who was asked to inscribe First John 4:18 on a wedding cake.  This is a great verse for a wedding cake.  It says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.”  The only problem is that the decorator misread the verse, and when the cake arrived at the wedding reception, instead of First John 4:18, inscribed on the cake was John 4:18 which says, “For thou hast had five husbands and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.”  OOPS! 

A florist made the same mistake.  A new business was opening and a friend wanted to send him flowers for the occasion.  The flowers arrived at the new business site and the owner read the card which said, “Rest in peace.”  But even worse, somewhere there was a funeral taking place that day that had flowers with a note saying, “Congratulations on your new location.”

We all do it.  I remember as a youth pastor getting one of those rare chances to preach on a Sunday morning.  This church typically used the King James Bible.  I wanted to read a verse from the New International Version of the Bible.  The problem was that I told the entire church that I was reading from the New International Virgin.  That didn’t fly real well.  Afterwards, one of the deacons wanted to know who this internationally known virgin was that I quoted.

It’s easy to mess up our communication isn’t it?  Did you realize that speech experts tell us that only 7% of our communication is actually the words that we say?  What makes up the rest?  38% of the way we communicate is actually done through our tone.  That’s why it is possible for a husband to come home from work and ask his wife how her day was and to have her reply with a heavy sigh and a quiet, sad voice, “fine”.  Now, if the only thing this husband heard was “fine” then he has a long night ahead of him.

But there is still another key area of communication.  It is your non-verbal actions.  This makes up 55% of your communication.  It is true…our actions do speak louder than our words.  That’s way a little boy can hit his sister and have his dad tell him to apologize.   He can then cross his arms in defiance, grit his teeth and hatefully spit out the words, “I’m sorry!”  Now did he really communicate that he was sorry?  Absolutely not!  What he really communicated was that he wanted a good old-fashioned spanking.

So what do we learn from all this?  We learn that when it comes to communication, we need to be sure that our words, our tone and our non-verbal actions are all saying the same thing.  That’s why I encourage people to never confront in writing or over e-mail.  When you do, only 7% of what you want to communicate comes through.  The person that you are hoping to communicate to can’t hear your tone and they can’t see your non-verbal which usually reveals your heart.  On the other side, we need to be sure that we listen the same way.  Don’t just listen to people’s words.  Listen also to their tone and watch their non-verbal actions.  It will do wonders for the relationships you have at home, at work and at church.

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