Faster vs Better – Chaplain Thought – Monday, March 30, 2020

One of the companies that I chaplain for has pretty much gone to all work at home during the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, I am sending out a weekly thought to keep in contact with them. This week’s is below.

Since more of us than normal at *** are working from home, or at least out of the office, I conversed with ******* concerning sending a weekly chaplain thought to everyone. This week’s thought comes from ***’s “Chew on This” Lunch meeting.

Each week a group of ***ers gets together, usually mixed between in-person and Webex participation (presently all through Webex for obvious reasons), to eat lunch, talk with one another about the things that are important to us, and share insight concerning subjects that one or more members of the group may have some expertise within. If you have the chance I would encourage you to attend, I find them very enlightening and enjoyable.  Today we checked in on each other and discussed some of the changes that COVID-19 has brought about for us all. Bradley shared a wonderful video from Simon Sinek concerning communication in this crisis. The video link is below.

Sinek’s point reminded me of a lecture I heard from a communication theorist years ago. I don’t remember his name, nor can I find my notes from 10 years ago to help me remember his name, but his point has stuck with me and changed much of my behavior in daily communication. 

This theorist stated that in his opinion advancements in communication usually lead to easier and faster, but not better communication. He walked everyone through a timeline to describe his point. 

We went from communication through a stationary phone “land-line” with a short line that you had to sit down beside (usually in the house’s foyer or living room), to a phone with a 20’ line (usually in the kitchen) that allowed you to do other things. You could now talk with someone while making your meal but the center of your focus was no longer on the person with whom you were talking. You divided your focus because you didn’t want to chop off your thumb while you were talking on the phone and making dinner. Then we went from the 20’ lines to wireless phones, and then cell phones. Each improvement allowed us to communicate easier and faster but not necessarily better. Now we talk with people while walking and driving rather than waiting to get back to the office or home. We communicate with others while we walk our dogs, rake our yards, grocery shop, and do everything else that is a part of our daily lives, but the price is that we are distracted from both the conversation and the task at hand. It is easier than ever before to get a message to someone, and more difficult than ever before to get a good message across. Texting, chatting, and messaging have each made our communication faster still, but definitely not better. We “talk” all the time without ever actually communicating much of anything. 

When we really want to communicate what is important we need to focus and give of ourselves. In my own faith tradition when God wanted to communicate His truth, He sent the Son, His very own self, to convey His message. His message was Himself, so only His very person could communicate that message. We communicate best when we give of ourselves.

I believe this is especially important when we are in isolation, such as the present moment in our history. Through the many gifts of technology, we have some amazingly fast methods of communication in front of us, that are helpful when we need speed over quality. I am very thankful for texting when someone cancels a meeting and texts me to inform me. Yet in our present social isolation, we need to give of ourselves more than anything else. So maybe use the forms of communication that force us to sit and focus on who we are talking with, rather than just the ones that are expedient at the moment. Webex the person you are talking with and force yourself to focus, or sit down and do nothing else while you talk with someone, maybe even write them a letter (but please don’t lick your envelope). Just communicate with your whole being, rather than communicating while you do something else. We need each other right now.

Please remember if you need someone to talk with about what is important to you I am always there for you and we can communicate in whatever fashion is best for you.

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