A Failure to Communicate

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” said the Captain to Luke in the movie Cool Hand Luke.

I observe this often. Sometimes among people I observe. Sometimes when I observe myself. Usually I talk about listening. Today, I’m thinking about talking.

You ever notice that sometimes we don’t say what we mean? Or we even fail to say something at all when the situation calls for us to explain?

So, I started thinking about this recently. Why is it that sometimes we don’t speak up? And then the other person makes up explanations in their mind about our intentions or thoughts. Often those internal explanations of other people are wrong. And often they lead to a path of suspicion, mistrust or even anger.

Why don’t we speak up?

I think fear is the basic motivator.

  • We are afraid of offending the other person
  • We are afraid of drawing attention to ourselves
  • We are afraid of being misunderstood
  • We are insecure in our own thoughts–which is a form of fear of speaking or acting on our own volition
  • We are afraid of being drawn into either an argument or an intense discussion

Usually our fears are unfounded. Usually an explanation, simply given, clears the air and leads to understanding.

In a spiritual discussion, overcoming the fear of speaking (which is a form of relating) leaves the other person thinking you are weak in your beliefs or with a lost opportunity for further reflection on the spiritual life that you could share.

In relationships, such a failure will lead to an increasing spiral of mistrust to anger to fractured relationships.

And all it takes to remedy the situation is to start with a simple sentence delivered with love and tact.

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