Thursday, June 12, 2014


Communication is hard to do well. Speaking is a poor imitation of thinking, so I'd rather be silent.

Sometimes we have to communicate. There are certain basic principles for ensuring that we understand and are understood.

Listen Actively
For some reason people think this means to interrupt and complete other people's sentences. It doesn't mean that at all. It means keep your mouth shut and your ears, eyes and mind open. Show the other person you understand that they have strong feelings by listening to what they feel strongly about and why they feel that way.
Yes, they might be saying something you disagree with, perhaps to a large degree. But you have to listen to understand and you must try to hear what they mean.
One of the smartest things I ever heard anyone say about communicating was to start with the sentence "I agree with you" and then listen carefully for where you have common points.

Be Heard
Now you have the chance to be heard. Start with acknowledging that they have a right to believe what they do. Look for the common points between you and focus your discussion on those. Where you have a different viewpoint, acknowledge that it is your viewpoint, and they don't have to share it (although we want them to, don't we?).
Explain your feelings and make your dissenting points firmly, but remain friendly.

Find a Joint Solution
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is "Whatsoever you do, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." It doesn't say men of like mind - it states "all men" (and, of course, women).
Gather their thoughts on your ideas. Build on those to something common between you. Offer your own ideas. The concept is to build something that will work between you that is acceptable. Don't seek for the "global thermonuclear war" option - where you want to be the last man standing. Seek to understand, be understood and work for common goals.

Don't compromise your principles
Some will think I mean you should compromise, and you can compromise on feelings and desires, but never compromise your core principles. By now you should know what they are and they comprise who you are.
Thomas Jefferson said it well: "On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock."

I reference the cadet honor code in another post where I talk about principles"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

Sometimes, no matter how much you might want a compromise with a person, it just won't work out. That's okay. It's a big world, and everyone has the right to their own beliefs - even if they are wrong (according to you). Sometimes you must simply let go of the relationship or agree to disagree and focus on other common issues.

You have a right to your beliefs, too, without persecution by others.

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