Turning to my right, I leaned over and whispered into Juan’s ear. “Today is Wednesday”
I repeated my boring sentence, and then aloud, re-defined the instructions for the game.
“Juan, what you heard me say, whisper that to Anton.
Anton, you whisper to Peleh what you thought Juan told you.
Peleh, you then whisper to Nassir what you think Anton told you.
Nassir, you will then tell everybody else what you heard Peleh tell you.”
I whispered to Juan: “Today is Wednesday.”
He chuckled and cupped his hand around his mouth as he spoke into Anton’s left ear. With a puzzled expression, Anton softly spoke into Peleh’s right ear. Having a hearing impairment hindered Peleh’s interpretation of what he heard, thus the phrase was repeated. Peleh turned his body and murmured to Nassir what he thought he heard. With a big smile and twinkling eyes, at what he perceived spoken, Nassir declared: “We are going to eat now!”
The larger group laughed. However, when I stated what I’d originally said, the group burst out in rolling-on- the-floor laughter. I was doing staff training on communication, and we played the game to prove the point:
What we hear and what we think and say we heard can be completely mistaken.
Did these guys actually hear what was being said or did they just make something up because they could not understand what they heard? This is an age-old problem in that people hear what they want to hear. Or, they deliberately refuse to believe that what they hear is important. This was the case in the story of Adam and Eve.
In the third chapter of Genesis, (NIV) God was speaking to Adam and told him:
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.”
Adam informed Eve of this and warned her to not eat the fruit. Conversely, Satan tells Eve that it is okay to eat from that particular tree.
“You will not surely die… For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”
Eve knew what Adam had told her, yet she listened to what Satan said because she wanted what was offered:
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”
Eve enjoyed the sweetness of the fruit and shared it with Adam. They ate the fruit;knowing that they were wrong and immediately had understanding of good and evil. As a consequence God cursed their lives due to disobeying his instructions.
This account teaches the importance of hearing and obeying God’s instruction. We can be deceived by listening to other ideas because we like what they are saying. Nevertheless, not obeying what God tells us results in consequences that are not in our best interest.
What made my training activity regarding communication extraordinary is that the four participants were each of a different ethnic group and English is their second language. It was not planned that way; they just happen to be sitting together, and my point was underscored. Nassir heard what he wanted to hear because he was hungry and food was nearby. In this case, it was a great segue to end for lunch, because the point was made:
The importance of communication and how different interpretations can affect what we think we are hearing.
Are you correctly hearing what God is telling you? Are you obeying Him or following someone else comprehension of what you should be doing?
Dear God, thank you for the lessons learned in your Word; from people like me who get it wrong. Help us to recognize what you are saying and give us the understanding to accurately pass on to others what you intend for us to hear and understand.
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