Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Emotions of Communication

Yesterday I was contemplating some crazy things happening lately, and viewing my weaknesses in how I deal with them.  It's always interesting to me, to see how people handle things in their own unique way, but yet at times, they all seem so much them same. 

One thing that really struck me was the idea of communication.  My mother got the chance to learn a lot about psychology, and one of the things she always stressed to her kids when we were dealing with trials was, quote, "Take the emotion out of it."  At the time, she was dealing with physical problems that would literally manifest when there was contention around her, so it was imperative for us to keep our home low-key, and take any negative emotions out of our home.  That didn't mean they didn't exist, but we had to learn to deal with them in a manner that didn't cause her physical pain. 

From this, it set a pattern in me, where rather than looking at the emotion of what someone says, I look plainly at what is said or done at face value.  Here are a few possible (and truly fictional) examples of this, using 2 friends' communication as a model.

Friend 1, via text: Hey, how are you?  Did you get my text yesterday?
Friend 2, via text: I can't come over tonight because I have a busy, busy schedule.

Analysis: How does the response of Friend 2 answer the stated question?  Did she really know what Friend 1 was asking?

Mom: Honey, did you pick up those apples at the store for me?
Dad: You know I didn't have time yesterday!  Get off my case!

Analysis: Was Mom trying to insult Dad and his time management skills, or just looking to find the apples to put in dessert?

Kid 1: Owww!  You kit me in the face with the ball!
Kid 2: Don't be such a baby!

Analysis: Wouldn't Kid 1 feel better 10 times quicker if Kid 2 simply acknowledged that Kid 1 is hurt?  A simple apology for the accident would likely quell any tempers that could result. 

I think it works the same way with God.  Things are put straight out and honestly in the scriptures.  In personal revelation, we often get straight out answers, but some of us tend to spin the answers to suit our own interpretation.  In one instance, we read that when the angel Moroni came to visit Joseph Smith, he came at least 3 times, delivering the same message, over and over (See Introduction to the Book of Mormon, The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith).  I think this was likely for lots of reasons. 
  • To help him remember the instructions involved.  Repetition helps.
  • To ensure there would be no spin put on it.  No "spiritual vs. temporal" interpretation applied, like we tend do all the time in Gospel Doctrine class.
  • The visits abided by the Law of Witnesses.  At least 3 witnesses ensure that the message is true.
Sometimes I wish in personal communication that it were socially acceptable to do as Moroni did.  Could you imagine if I texted the same message to someone 3 times, to make sure they actually read it at face value, without putting their own emotions or interpretation on what I might actually be trying to say?  It's kind of ridiculous, but trials in communication really can be frustrating, and I wonder if we spent a bit more time listening, or taking things at face value, that there would be a whole lot less drama in the world from misunderstandings.  It makes me wonder what Jesus would do in instances like these!  

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