Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)
TITLE: Breaking Down the Breakdown
By Hiram Claudio
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But what is so intriguing to me is the third definition listed for ‘breakdown.’ It is simply, ‘to analyze or to clarify something, to divide into parts.’ So whether the communication has been successful or not, one way to view ‘communication breakdown’ is to see it as the process or analysis undertaken by which we understand the ‘why’ and the ‘how.’ When communication goes awry, how did we get there? When it works, how did that happen? To analyze or clarify our various attempts at communication so we can better understand them and hopefully improve on them sounds like a very worthy goal.
But where do we start? So many books are written and so many theories exist that it can get confusing quickly. How about starting with the most basic things we say to others? It starts with the first words we learn as infants. Simply … ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Let’s break this down further – WAIT A MINUTE! How can you breakdown ‘further’ someone saying ‘yes’ or ‘no?’ Don’t those words speak for themselves?
It would be nice but unfortunately, that is not where our culture is today. We read stories of a time when a person’s word was their bond. That when someone said ‘yes,’ it meant yes and when they said ‘no,’ it meant no! Today, mistrust and disbelief rule much of our interaction. So how do we get back to a place when a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ truly will do?
In Matthew 5:37, the Lord commands us to “… let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (NKJV). The passage talks about swearing oaths and overall, by way of oaths, needing something more than ‘your word’ to add weight to or substantiate what you say. Jesus implores us to let our ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ speak for themselves.
Yet we all know that this really isn’t about the words we say but the lives behind those who say them. It is here that the analysis of our communication is helpful. Letting your ‘Yes’ be taken as a ‘Yes’ (and mean something) is more about the life of integrity and character you lead than it is about the eloquence of the words you say (after all, how eloquent can you really say just one word). As people, living a life of someone who can be trusted and counted on brings with it many blessings. One of them is that when you say ‘Yes’ to something, nothing more need be offered by you. Your approval speaks for itself because you life goes with it.
Truth is, most times when we engage in oaths or ‘swearing to’ something, it is a means to bring comfort to the person hearing it that we really do mean what we say – that what we say can be trusted. Gee – seems to me that what we are doing in these times is trying to make up for not earning the trust of the people we are speaking with. Now true, sometimes we just encounter very untrusting people. Fair enough. But if we are honest, more often than now a true ‘breakdown’ of our ‘communication’ would reveal an attempt to counteract the reputation we have earned over a long period of time.
Bottom line … focusing more attention on the breakdown (meaning ‘collapse’) in our character will then require less time needed to breakdown (meaning ‘analyze’) why so much of our communication breaks down (meaning ‘fails’).
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