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Yesterday in one of the children’s Sunday School classes while we were singing songs, one of the teachers said a few words between the songs about how Jesus needs to be in our hearts, and about how we love Him with our hearts. One of the boys chimed in that he was a scientist, and he knows you can’t love with your heart because it’s just an organ that pumps blood; you love God with your brain or mind. There was some explaining done about what was meant by “the heart,” and how in this case it doesn’t mean the pumper in your chest. Sometimes when we talk about our hearts we mean something deeper about us than just our physical organ, we’re often talking about the soul and spirit, or the “core of our being,” if you will.

This got me thinking about how people talk to each other. You  might know what a word or expression means, but the person you are talking to might have an entirely different idea in mind. Or they might know what a word or expression means, but you have an entirely different idea in mind. This causes confusion and misunderstanding. So when you converse with people it helps you both to be sure that you both know what you’re talking about. Clarity is really the most important thing when you communicate with someone else. If you don’t understand each other, then you can’t get all or even the correct information across.

So how does one be sure they have clarity and that they understand someone else? You listen, you ask questions, you listen some more, you ask follow-up questions, and you listen some more. And how does one give clarity to another to be sure they understand? It helps to have listened to the other person so you know a bit about how they will process what you tell them. You can ask questions to check that the other person has understood, and you listen to be sure they do. Let them know they can ask questions, and listen as they ask.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve used the words “question” and “listen” a lot in my explanation. That’s good, because understanding has very much to do with questions and listening, mostly listening. Try it out. Really listen to someone and ask them questions if you’re unsure. The more you listen the better you’ll get at it.

More on talking with others: Civil Discourse, Listen to People