Words Limited

Words are not enough to encompass life. To experience the universe only through words is to miss life itself, and fail to enter the kingdom of Heaven

I was waiting for a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last weekend, and doing what I often do at airports…watching people. Thousands walked by, from flight crews with their impressive leather jackets and epaulets, to children with their troll pillows and Disney backpacks. Many adults were stooped, with shoulders rotated in and necks craned forward looking at their cell phones, which they typically held in their left hands. Single women cruised with short steps and a hippy gait, especially those in high heels, and single men sported their shouldery saunter. Mothers pushed strollers and fathers carried car seats and other luggage through crowded passageways.

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Communication Conflicts

Assumptions, Emotions, Perceptions, Conditions, and Facts color our communication with ourselves and others. We must learn to manage them.

A wise man once said that the hardest thing about communication is the illusion that it has occurred. I have been involved in hundreds of medical, military, and public safety operations, and the after-action reviews of each one cite communication as a problem. Whether in business, relationships, or anywhere else, avalanches of academic papers and mountains of media articles bemoan our inability to effectively talk to each other, and propose ways of fixing it.

Several factors are present in every communication event, including assumptions, emotions, perceptions, conditions, and facts. They change the communication, often without the participants realizing it.

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Open Windows

How to keep our hearts and our lives open to the people and experiences that God has put around us.

It was a three-car accident, with three distraught drivers walking between their disabled vehicles and the flashing blue lights of police cruisers drawing attention to the scene. Traffic was slow, with hundreds of bypassing drivers craning their necks to see what had happened. Though I have long disparaged such “looky loos”, I found myself drawn into the action. I gazed for a second too long, turned forward, found a car stopped just a few feet ahead, hit the brakes, and swerved into the shoulder to avoid a crash. I barely made it; with no harm except to my pride.

After thanking God for saving me from this close call, I considered why it happened. The morning temperatures were in the high forties but road conditions were good and visibility clear. On leaving home I had opened my driver’s window, and had noticed that of the thousands of cars on the road, only two had their windows even partly open. It was easy to see why – it was cold, and the wind chill made it worse. Still, opening the window made me much more aware of my surroundings. Instead of just seeing the activities on the road, I could hear them, and to some degree even feel them. I had gotten cold and closed the window just before my near crash. The traffic opened up, but several minutes and several miles later I saw another emergency vehicle about ¼ mile behind me. He moved closer and I pulled over, seeing rather than hearing him from a distance. Others didn’t pull over at all.

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