Last week as we celebrated Mother’s day, what did you think that the significant woman in your life wanted? The media would have us believe that a sickly sweet card, a bunch of flowers and a gift is all that is required. But I would like to suggest that these will not make up for a year of poor communication! Words have power, both for good and evil! To communicate is to take risks, and the words we use are never as clear as we might think, because people put their own meaning into those words, and jump to their own conclusions about what you really mean. Yet trying to communicate without words is almost impossible as my daughter in Japan would attest. But even when we speak the same language we have to be careful, and think about the best way to express ourselves.
Try this quick quiz. What do you think is the most important word in the English language? Aussie culture would suggest that it is a toss up between “I”, “ME” and “MY”! Against that background if you want to communicate effectively, in your home and work environment, consider the following:
1. The most important word is WE! Even in a military environment one is too small a number to achieve anything significant and it is only as we work together that we can fulfil our role and purpose.
2. The two most important words are THANK YOU! The fact is it is these common courtesies that provide the lubricant to reduce frictions in relationships. When was the last time that you showed appreciation for the simple things others do for you that you take for granted? Go against the tide today.
3. The three most important words are ALL IS FORGIVEN! How many family and workplace relationships are poisoned because neither side is prepared to back down and ask or receive forgiveness? Don’t wait for them to act, take the initiative.
4. The four most important words are WHAT IS YOUR OPINION? The key to good relationships is to foster two way communication. But if you ask, make sure that you really listen and value their input.
5. The five most important words are YOU DID A GOOD JOB! We all need encouragement, whether you are the CO or the AC, but it needs to be specific and real for it to be meaningful. Who can you encourage today?
6. The six most important words are I WANT TO KNOW YOU BETTER! If you want to communicate better, you will need to make the effort to understand their world and how they see life. But look out, that may also require you to be vulnerable and share something of yourself as well.
Yes, words are important, but so is your attitude, and just using the right words will not automatically improve communication. Make a decision today to build up and not tear down, not just your mothers but all those who are close, and do to others what you want them to do to you. That is God’s plan for all of us, and what he is trying to tell us as well.
Chaplain Ian Whitley