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Are You Really Communicating What You Want to Say?

Are You Really Communicating What You Want to Say?

Did you mean it that way? Often, our tone, or even the omission of a word can drastically change our intended meaning when we communicate to our families. Let's take stock of how we speak today to avoid misunderstanding and grow in unity.

The world around me faded into a blur, the only sounds registering in my mind was the blood pounding in my ears and the words on the other end of the phone no mother ever wants to hear.

Let me back up a bit.

My daughters were away at camp, my husband working hard down at his office, and I was enjoying an all-to-rare lunch date with my mother (who was visiting from out of town) and my son. I had just barely put the golf-tee-triangle game away and taken a sip from my sweet tea when my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but answered anyway.

"Ma'am, this is Betsy* with First Response Air," the voice stated solemnly.

"Oh my goodness, is everything okay?"

In the mere milliseconds it took for her statement to register in my brain, my mind was instantly awash with a million questions. Which daughter was hurt? Are they alive? Conscious? Breathing?

My hands began to shake and my vision spin. My mother, who only had my facial expression with which to judge the situation, placed an instinctive protective arm around my son and watched intently for any sign of what was happening. I started thinking about the quickest way for my husband to reach whatever hospital they were flying my baby girl to and how to coordinate whatever work schedules would need changed. Prayers, guttural and wordless, poured from my heart and I knew the Spirit was interceding for me.

It's amazing the myriad things that can fill a mother's mind in so short a time span when she believes her baby is in danger.

"Yes, ma'am, everything is fine. I was just calling to inform you we'd like to offer you a deal on a home air conditioning inspection."

What?! Air conditioning?!?!

Simultaneous tidal waves of relief, anger, and mortification crashed over me.

I practically screamed at the woman how she had scared me to death, and that she might consider adding the word "conditioning" to the end of her company's name when making cold calls such as this one.

I could hear the realization dawn her own voice. She felt horrible, I could tell, and I apologized for my outburst. We shared a bout of nervous laughter and hung up the phone.

It took a good portion of the afternoon for the adrenaline of those few seconds to fully wear off, and I've thought of that encounter often since then.

You see, she didn't realize how her statement would translate. In her mind, she was being crystal clear about who she was with and why she was calling. However, that one missing tidbit of information caused a misunderstanding of mass proportions.

Ever been there? Yeah, me too.

All too often I realize, too much after the fact, that what I thought was clear and concise communication to my children or my husband was missing a single word or phrase that would save everyone much grief and frustration in misunderstanding.

So often, we moms have our to-do lists all set in our minds and we spend large portions of the day filtering through how we're possible going to accomplish all the things, and when we communicate to our families what we need it's all crystal clear in our minds. 

Or perhaps we don't use words at all. Perhaps we hope that our loudly loading the dishwasher or huffily folding laundry is communicating loud and clear that we need, or want, help. However, it's become quite clear to me in my twelve years of being a mom that subtlety is lost on kids.

So today, dear one, as you pray through your day and look for ways for your words to be sweet as honey with your family, pray also for the wisdom and discernment to know the words that will be communicate what you really mean.

Whether its helping that one kid finally grasp long division, reporting the latest data to your boss, or filling your husband in on your day, look for the little ways that you can be straightforward and direct - with gentleness and love - so that you're communicating what you really mean.

Have you ever had a "First Response Air" kind of misunderstanding? How do you make sure you're saying what you really mean and mean what you really say? How do you make sure you're really listening so that you can understand others?



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