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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What I Heard You Say

Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from evil.
~ Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 5:37

I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
~ unknown

In today's world of email, tweets, posts, clips, texts, blogs, and bytes I sometimes wonder if anybody is communicating with anyone.

I recently listened to a fascinating interview with Nobel Prize Psychologist Daniel Kahneman.  In the interview he shared the following story:

My wife and I, we had dinner with a couple of friends, some years ago. And we came back, and we talked. We went to bed, and we talked about our experience. And my wife said of the man with whom we’d had dinner, “He is sexy.” And then, immediately after that, she said something that struck me as completely bizarre. I mean in fact, it is bizarre. She said, “He doesn’t undress the maid himself.” And I turned to her, and I said, “What on earth are you saying? What do you mean, ‘He doesn’t undress the maid himself’?” Well, what she actually had said was, “He doesn’t underestimate himself.” And I heard as “He doesn’t undress the maid himself.”...Now, this illustrates how the mind works, and it illustrates how ready you are to produce some interpretations, rather than others. But one of the striking aspects of this story was that it didn’t occur to me, at the time, that because it was such an unlikely thing for her to have said, she hadn’t said it....That did not occur to me, because I heard it. I “knew” what she had said. The only question was why she had said such a crazy thing. And our mind works like that a lot of the time. 

As a minister I've preached a lot of sermons over 25 years. One thing I learned early on is that I preach one sermon but the number of sermons heard is in direct proportion to the number of people in the congregation.

The point of all of this is simply to remind us that words and how we say them and hear them matter, whether emailed, tweeted, posted, texted, broadcasted, or spoken and heard face to face.

Maybe it's time for all of us to take time to speak and listen more intentionally beyond 140 characters at a time and preferably more personally. The old saying "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me." is not true. 

Words really do matter!

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