Communicating with Clarity

Many words are spoken each day, but not all of them are understood.  Words help us tell stories, jokes and just relay important information to each other.  But, for the amount of words used on any given day, there is somewhat of a disconnect between what is said and what is understood.  After all, clarity of a message is essential to the message.

I was on an airplane a few years ago on my way to a conference in Colorado.  My seat was near the back of the plane and there were a fair number of empty seats around me.  Just before the doors were to close a man who did not speak english very well came on the plane.  Behind him was his oversized carry on piece of luggage.  At first glance I thought, “how on earth did he get that through security?”  But, the best was yet to come.  He proceeds to open the overhead bin and look around for a place to store this gigantic piece of luggage.  Seeing no room, he tries to force it in.  When he is done, it is sticking out by at least six inches.  He then sits down.  Of course, the flight attendant comes by and tells him that this isn’t going to work and they could check it.  He appears to understand and removes the luggage.  He then straps it into the seat next to him, prompting yet another more annoyed visit from the flight attendant.  “Sir, you need to check that bag.”  Again, he appears to understand, for a moment.  He then lifts it back up and tries to force it into the bin.  He is pushing and twisting and wasting all sorts of energy on a worthless task.  The flight attendant now goes and gets another flight attendant who tries to explain using hand signals that he needs to part with his luggage.  This man had one more idea, however.  He opened the bag and pulled out a stack of hotel towels.  Wouldn’t you know it, once he did that, he was able to get the bag to fit in the bin.  I seriously clapped when it was over, it was quite the show.

Communication can so easily break down and get confused.  Words get lost or changed based on how we read things.  I might address one of my kids and get different reactions to the same request simply based on their mood, or mine.   In the world of social media, or maybe anti-social media, Facebook and Twitter both provide information, but they also provide easy ways for people to misunderstand or get hurt by words.

So, I propose a few ways that we all could communicate better to one another.

1-  Stop saying OMG — All these texting abbreviations represent something and are still offensive, in my opinion.  The name of God is to be cherished and proclaimed, not used in vain.

2- Avoid having tough conversations via text message — I have had numerous teens try to get out of having a face to face conversation by sending me texts.  Text messages are convenient, but they are not the best means for resolving issues.  Plus, how many of you have had to send texts back and forth to someone to help them actually understand what is meant.

3-  Stop using your phone to spread gossip.  I know you think you are somehow helping the world by spreading those important pieces of data about that person, but you are just creating conflict.   Maybe a better approach is to pray for that person and help them in their sin or issue.

“If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.” Proverbs 25: 9-10

4-  Say what you mean.  Speaking in vague terms confuses and loses clarity.  How many times have you seen a Facebook status that gives just enough information to know that someone is upset without any details?  I always wonder if they actually want us to know or are they just using this as an extension of their thoughts?  Either way, just say what you mean.  When I moved from the midwest to the east coast, I learned that sometimes people here take this to an extreme also.  The point is not to be rude, but clear.  Parents like to know exactly what is meant, just like teens like to know exactly what is expected of them.

5-  Lastly, don’t be afraid to love one another!   It sounds funny, but I have been around enough people to know that not everyone really knows how to love one another.  Of course, apart from God’s work in our lives we fail at this also.   People make mistakes, but love can cover many wrongs.

“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs”  – Proverbs 10:12



  1. I’m with you on this. It’s especially disturbing when Christians use OMG!!!!!! It’s not better just because it has become an acronym. Teens tend to want to do everything through texting. That’s a good point and one I had not thought of. Thanks for sharing. Angie

  2. I am doing what I can to help with #4. It is a sad state of affairs we use words when we know not what they mean. As for my house, specificity is the rule. And they can spell it.

    Thank you, Derek.

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