Walking Towards Better Communication


Many years ago while serving as a missionary in Argentina, I was paired with an athletic companion who, as a former college football player, was tall and large.  In fact, after the mission he ended up playing some professional ball. As I was much smaller , it wasn’t a surprise to find myself  frantically trying to keep up with him when we rode our bikes to get around the city of Buenos Aires. His legs were much longer and stronger and despite my best efforts I found myself lagging behind him. He would always have to stop and wait for me.  I felt bad and wanted to keep up with him but the law of physics was against me.

It wasn’t until we had been together for a couple of months  that he disclosed that there was a personal motivation behind his desire to out bike me to any location.  His reason and motivation both shocked and surprised me. He said he was sick of how fast I walked and he wanted to pay me back by riding his bike faster to make me mad. I was totally taken off guard as I had no ideal that he had been upset at me, and that my apparent fast walking was a problem.  He had perceived that I was walking fast on purpose to show him up. The reality is that I am, and have always been a ‘fast walker.’ I guess that ticks some people off!

In retrospect the whole exchange seems humorous but I learned a small lesson in life. Communication is critical in making any relationship work. Those we associate with can’t read our minds. If something is bothering us, I think it best that we try to verbally work things out instead of letting our feelings fester to a boiling point. When we do so, we should follow the admonition given years ago in a conference talk given by L. Lionel Kendrick. He charged:

“Christlike communications are expressed in tones of love rather than loudness. They are intended to be helpful rather than hurtful. They tend to bind us together rather than to drive us apart. They tend to build rather than to belittle.

Christlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.

The real challenge that we face in our communications with others is to condition our hearts to have Christlike feelings for all of Heavenly Father’s children. When we develop this concern for the condition of others, we then will communicate with them as the Savior would…” (Oct, 1988, “Christlike Communication”)

When we take time to express our thoughts and feelings with others we have a better chance of overcoming anger and hurt feelings. Sometimes, as in the case of my relationship with my missionary companion, an offense perceived was an offense unintended. I still am a ‘fast walker’ but since that conversation with my missionary companion, I at least recognize and try to control my compulsion to walk at an ‘un-Godly’ pace.

At a time when it seems that ‘he who yells loudest’ gets heard, may we all strive to communicate in a Christlike manner with love in our hearts and forgiveness in our souls. In so doing we are making a fast walk towards an attribute of Godliness.

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