Communication today is more difficult, problematic, and cumbersome than it has been in recent memory. One might think advances in technology, communication, and media would have reduced the problem; I believe the advances to date have actually made our communication problems more complex and inherently more difficult. In today’s reality traditional lines of cultural, time, and distance blur into a bizarre mix of what one knows and understands with confusion, new jargon, and unknown metaphors. The meanings of yesterday no longer hold for everyone. New words, even languages are emerging which cross every traditional demarcation line. It is as if we have lost the language of our fathers, can’t find the language of our your, and at times are unsure of what language we are using.
You can see how some professions are responding to the challenge differently. Coaching methods across the world have morphed into a specialized world of their own. Coaches no longer assume students will come to them, rather they adopt and adapt their style, methods, and communication to individual talent pools. Management gurus continue to develop new methods tailored to the specific audiences and constituencies. Significant amounts of time and monies are expended trying to establish and share core values and principles which apply in every situation. In the end more words and languages exist then when we began.
My approach follows a simple process. First, I reach out to others with terms and forms they understand. In this context I work towards a mutual understanding of core principles and values. As the understanding builds I develop shared metaphors and examples which transcend the language we initially used in our dialogue. I find myself explaining that “I've used figures of speech in telling you these things. Soon I'll drop the figures and tell you about [God] the Father in plain language.” (John 16.25) If I begin with and focus on the individual and the opportunities, the process works. It is as if we discover, use, and nurture a shared language of love, mercy, and acceptance; components of living life to the max.
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