Tag Archive for: communication

Be

Put your mobile down.
Set your tablet or laptop aside.
Turn the television off.
Put down your book.
Are you paying attention?
Just be here.

𝐁𝐞.

In a world filled with distractions it can be easy to get side-tracked and lose focus on the person or people that matter most of all.
In a recent coaching interview, one missionary asked me a question something like this…
“President, how can I improve my communication skills?”
Reflecting for a moment, as I observed the missionary and made eye contact, I asked a question that focused on being present and the unspoken dialogue I observed before me.
I asked, “Look at me and tell me what you observe?”
Hesitating the missionary responded… “I see you!”
“What else do you see?” I asked.
“You’re sitting comfortably”.
“Yes, I am sitting comfortably, but what else?” I said.
There were a few more interactions.
However, unable to see what I was driving at; I described my body language.
Then the missionary understood that I’d been delicately mirroring or matching the gesture’s, expressions, tone of voice and seating posture throughout our conversation.
What was I really saying?
I was indicating… “I am curious about you and making an effort to understand you.”
I had slowed down.
It was a moment of true bewilderment, to watch the reaction unfold.
Observing and listening, along with things we speak, are equally critical parts of communicating, that show you care.
“We must develop the capacity to see [others] not as they are at present but as they may become.” – Thomas S. Monson.
True disciples of Jesus Christ seek to follow His example in the ways they communicate.
I love this scripture from Ephesians 4:29 …“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
If you want to develop Christlike communication, then speak with a missionary today.

Mission Leadership Council

Every six weeks, the leaders of the mission gather together to counsel about the relevant matters of the day.
Our topics yesterday included:
– Study Your Language (SYL) – daily!
– Teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ
– Drawing on the Powers of Heaven
– Being united, knit together as one
– Dealing with constant Change
– Hot Chocolate and Sifting – see Luke 22:31-32
– To the Rescue – Ministering to the one.
– Christlike attributes
– Team work
– Communication Skills
– Social Media and Content Updates…
These are very special days, never to be forgotten.
As missionaries come and go in the mission, gaining an understanding of leadership and counselling together, is such an important part of their growth and development.
Oh – and we also like to have a little bit of fun too!
The pictures capture just one of our lively learning activities of the day!

Conversation Buddies

At our recent zone conferences, we held a communication activity.
We created a safe space to talk out loud and recreate a companionship council.
It was fun to observe, as each missionary verbalised their thinking.
They each taught one another something they didn’t know!
I noticed too, sometimes, we don’t listen to each other at all.
We may speak at each other, or past each other, rather than with each other.
Part of the exercise was to learn how to talk with one another in honest and effective ways.
Communication is an essential part of daily life, it’s like a lubricant for all our relationships.
Entering a conversation, we join with our own opinions, feelings, and experiences.
Conversations can hold immense power, create connection, and help us to grow.
With their conversation buddies, missionaries learned how to communicate more effectively, in turn leading to the need for some change.

Change

Change is hard.
We’re all human, and we all have our struggles, right?
Your biggest rival to change is most likely some internal obstacle that is going on in your head!
– A lack of confidence
– Laziness
– Procrastination
– Stubbornness
When we attempt to change, sometimes we may apply the wrong tactics.
Yet, daily, seemingly small decisions, can all add up to make a big difference.

Time

As I watch each missionary arrive at the start of their mission, over time, I see them develop, and change.
As each of them humbly turns to one another, and then ultimately turn to Jesus Christ’s great example, He increase’s their capacity to change.
Exercising their faith in Jesus Christ, it is only through Him, that they are all given the strength to make lasting changes in their lives.
He literally changes their hearts, because of His great love and empathy for the people He served.
He can and will do the same for each of us, as we accept His invitation to “Come Follow Him”.
Week in, week out, I am a witness to many, who have experienced a “change of heart” (Alma 5:26) as they learn more about divine communication.
Why not seek out a new conversation buddy, and speak with a missionary today…
How can faith in Jesus Christ help you to change?

Dialogue

It was an afterthought.
Leaving for the office yesterday afternoon, I nipped back upstairs and picked up my box of CCS cards.

The Task

Later, as I started the meeting, I asked each participant to consider a question and then select three cards they regarded to be an answer to the question I posed.
Each participant was holding an identical pack of cards, with the same photographs, illustrations, and words.
Attentively, I watched as each member of the council started to thumb through the deck and select some images that captured their personal point of view.
I smiled, as I watched their faces light up, obviously amused as they shared and compared images with one another, they’d found interesting.
I was struck by their concentration, and evident delight in finding suitable cards that meant something to them in answer to the question I’d asked.

Sharing

Then, after some time, in our safe space, it was time to share.
I explained a little and observed again.
Quietly, deeply, respectfully, each person asked themselves “what is it that I most want to communicate”?
Randomly, one by one, each person articulated their thoughts with great depth of clarity and understanding, allowing them to speak about what was in their hearts and minds.
The personal insights shared were powerful and thought provoking.
Each participant said something that was true for them and everyone else respectfully listened.
It was clear as participants felt safe to share their half-formed ideas, and discover new meanings in a simple image, the energy in the room began to gather, and the atmosphere started to deepen for the dialogue that followed.

Outcomes

The purpose of the simple activity was to help participants to uncover and talk about their thoughts on the given subject.
Instead of getting down to business straight away as normal, it was just really nice to pause, talk and meet together as fellow human beings, by engaging in a meaningful conversation in a fun way.
It has been my experience as a facilitator, that saying something in a friendly, respectful, and informal way, early in a gathering, can set a pattern of full participation that can help maintain energy levels throughout any meeting.
Setting the scene yesterday, opened up a new way to ensure authentic dialogue throughout our meeting together, where crucially we really listened to one another.
How do you ensure authentic dialogue in your meetings?

Crucial Conversations

Consider the two words below.
– rea𝐂tive
– 𝐂reative
These two words describe the mindset that you can bring to any conversation.
There is a key difference in the position of the letter “𝐂”
Best-selling author Neale Donald Walsch, says “When we 𝐂 things correctly, life becomes 𝐂reative instead of rea𝐂tive.”
Repositioning a letter… one 𝒔𝒎𝒂𝒍𝒍 move, makes a 𝒉𝒖𝒈𝒆 difference.
Our mindset is vitally important.
Changing the way, we talk with one another; will change the way we act.
And subsequently changing the way people act, will in turn, as a result, change the outcomes.
Recently I’ve been involved in several conversations about presence.
Presence: being aware of what is happening in the moment, experiencing body sensations, noticing thoughts, feeling emotions.
Whilst deepening your presence can be somewhat challenging, the results can be transformative.
When we are present, we are in touch with what’s really happening.
Research reveals that presence is a capacity that can be developed by everyone.
Being 𝐂reative in the here-and-now is pivotal in re-energising and engaging people around you.
Slowing down is equally crucial.
When people listen to each other, they do their best thinking, by surfacing concerns in both directions.
Subsequently, when you are really “present” and “land” in the moment by addressing what matters most, experience has taught me that new unseen possibilities emerge and come into view.
So, what does all this mean for you and me?
Simply stated, a single conversation can potentially open or shut a door on a whole new future that can help us to become more conscious of how we talk with one another.
Choose to be present today and for a while, give someone your undivided attention.
How do you 𝐂/𝐬𝐞𝐞 things?

The List

Preparing to go shopping this morning, Monic asked “Have you seen the shopping list?”
“No” I responded.
“Would you mind going to look for it in the car, I think I may have left it in my jacket?” – she said.
Off I went.
I checked in the car and looked in her jacket pockets.
“Nothing there” I remarked.
“It may be upstairs” said Monic, and off she went.
Then I stated, “I’ll just put the bins out whilst you look.”
Off I went out back into the garden pulling two wheelie bins and put them beside all the other bins on the street for collection.
I came back inside via the back door and waited in the living room.
I got distracted by a message on my phone.
Then I waited a while longer.
“What a time she is taking” I thought.
The doorbell rang.
“Who can that be so early?” I thought.
I opened the door.
It was Monic!
I was perplexed, I thought she was upstairs!
“What are you doing, I’m waiting in the car” she said…
We smiled.
Then we laughed.
Actually, we laughed a lot!
“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone, whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness–and call it love–true love.” — Robert Fulgham, American author

Lost in Translation

Anyone who speaks two languages knows that some phrases in one language communicate certain ideas better than in another.
For instance the word “gezellig” in Dutch.
In English it is pronounced “heh-sell-ick.”
According to Wikipedia, “A perfect example of untranslatability is seen in the Dutch language through the word gezellig, which does not have an English equivalent. Literally, it means cozy, quaint, or nice, but can also connote time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness.”
It means everything from cozy to friendly, from comfortable to relaxing, and from enjoyable to gregarious.
Just one word and eight letters in Dutch, and it takes Wikipedia and me two dozen words to try and summarise, define and understand that one Dutch word, of which there is no English equivalent.
In fact different cultures prescribe different words to various emotions, and words to express a particular emotion may not be found in another language.
I have learned that all languages have strengths and weaknesses.
Recent observations have taught me something about the Dutch.
Firstly, many Dutch will explain something, and then secondly, they’ll add an English translation to emphasise a point they wish to make, or ensure understanding.
Frequently I now do it myself!
Consider this example in English and the possible interpretations, depending on the emphasis you give different words. (𝒃𝒐𝒍𝒅 𝒊𝒕𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒔 added)
“𝑰 never said he stole my phone”. Suggests I never said it, but someone else did.
“I 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 said he stole my phone”. Suggests that I never said that at all.
“I never 𝒔𝒂𝒊𝒅 he stole my phone”. Suggests I may have implied it, even if I didn’t directly say it.
“I never said 𝒉𝒆 stole my phone”. Suggests that I didn’t say that boy stole it, but some other boy did.
“I never said he 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒍𝒆 my phone”. Suggests that I never said he stole my phone, but perhaps he borrowed it.
“I never said he stole 𝒎𝒚 phone”. Suggests that he stole someone’s else phone, not mine.
“I never said he stole my 𝒑𝒉𝒐𝒏𝒆”. Suggests that he stole something else, but not my phone.
𝐄𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐬, changes meaning – a lot!
What have you lost in translation?

Don’t forget to laugh!

A fun experience from Belgium last week.
Departing our hotel room, on the second floor, fully loaded down with all our luggage, we arrived at the lift.
Our unspoken plan was to take the lift to the ground floor reception and checkout.
The visual indicator showed that the lift was on the ground floor “0.”
We both looked at the lift call buttons and independently of each other, we pushed the call buttons.
One button pointed upwards, the other button pointed downwards.
One of us pushed up, the other pushed down.
Quizzically, we looked at one another, thinking “Why did you do that?”
Do you remember the classic book on communication styles, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray?
The book highlights the key differences between how men and women think, act, and communicate.
I must admit – that was my first thought as we stood waiting on the lift to arrive.
We turned to one another again and laughed!
It was a silly moment, but one that highlighted the simple differences between our thinking.
Stepping into the lift, we did finally arrive at our destination, after a short detour upwards, to the third floor!
After 28 years of marriage, our conclusion is this…
No two people ever see all things precisely the same!
Understanding and appreciating one another’s differences is the key to healthy relationships.
And don’t forget to laugh – often!! 😅
𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡?

Customs

Do you have any customs or habits in your country that communicate information in an unusual way?
A few weeks ago, whilst up in Leeuwarden, we discovered one about the Netherlands and had absolutely no idea what it was!
It was 12 noon on the first Monday of November, and we heard a very loud wailing siren which went off for a minute or two.
We thought it was some kind of huge factory siren, informing the workforce it was the lunch hour!
As it continued, it became a little disconcerting.
However, we needn’t have concerned ourselves too much.
A little bit of further research informed us that it was actually the Dutch emergency siren test.
It certainly caught our attention the first time we heard it.
Now we understand that it is a regular monthly test that lasts for approximately 90 seconds. All 3,800 emergency sirens throughout the Netherlands are set off simultaneously.
I also received a text message this month, which I am guessing is also some kind of test.
The monthly emergency siren test is a normal part of daily Dutch life.
It reminded me of the one o’clock gun, back home at Edinburgh Castle, which is now great for tourists.
In the late 1800’s it was an important part of aligning ships chronometers in the Firth of Forth.
Each of these customs form an important part of the structure and foundation of our societies. In some ways they provide constancy, stability, familiarity and a semblance of order and predictability to our existence and our community.
We communicate in lots of different ways.
What unusual customs do you have where you live?

Understanding

“Do you understand what I mean?” he asked.
In many relationships, one of the big barriers to understanding is a lack of communication, a lack of talking things out, a lack of keeping things in the open. Oftentimes whilst counselling, one half of a relationship will sit in brooding silence, hugging any grievances close to their heart, rather than being open and honest.
Pressures can mount, small things are magnified and frequently much more than is true can be imagined in their minds by either party. Fragmentary listening, misinterpretation of ideas, and mistaken meanings of words can cause misunderstandings. And so there is much not knowing, much mistrust, much heartache, much unhappiness and sitting hurting, in silence. Happiness will not survive in pent up places.
So how do we strengthen these relationships?
We need to engage in meaningful conversations.
It all starts with the greatest of all the communication skills, and that is being an effective listener. That means slowing down. Being listened to is one of the highest forms of respect and recognition. Really listening is not about gaining information, rather it is to gain understanding.
Some years ago Marvin J. Ashton said “Communication is more than a sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings, and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally.”
Regularly setting aside time to talk where there are no distractions can help to solve problems.
Why not start today and resolve to listen a little more.
When will you set aside time to communicate and really listen?