Can I Just Have a Word With You?

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2023

*this is part 2 in a 3-part series. Click these links to see the other articles. Article 1 and Article 3.*

Loquacious? That is an odd word. I reach for my phone. Tap tap tap tap. Ding. 



lo· qua· cious lō-ˈkwā-shəs 

Synonyms of loquacious

1: full of excessive talk: WORDY

2: given to fluent or excessive talk: GARRULOUS

Merriam-Webster satisfies my curiosity. Okay, I admit I added the “ding” for illustrative purposes. Do you remember when you had to get up, walk to the bookshelf, take down a three-pound book, blow the dust off the cover, rifle through the pages until you found the word you were looking for, and then trace your finger under the tiny print as you read a definition? Our phones have changed that.

My little exercise with my camera photo album last week started me thinking about all the other conveniences my phone gives me with its apps and how I use them. I can’t help but wonder what else I might discover about myself if I use my phone as a tool of reflection and insight, among all its other uses. And this week, I’m thinking about language apps. Dictionaries. Encyclopedias. There are even language translation apps that I can use to translate any word or sentence into any known language. I certainly can access all the necessary words to communicate in any context.

Add to these tools my word processor - wow, even that term is outdated - and with a blinding speed that Gutenberg himself never envisioned, I can text, email, and create documents and deliver them to my friends and family instantly.

Communication should be a lot easier now than it used to be. Emphasis on “should.” Frankly, I wonder if I have confused access to language as having the “right” words. Despite all of these easy-to-access tools, I still misuse words. I miscommunicate. I misspeak (a word I learned from politicians). I make mistakes when I attempt to express myself.

I think it’s because great communication requires more than just language. As a leader and pastor, I know the value of words. I’ve often said that I frequently speak up when I should shut up. I say that because my words can heal or hurt. My words can build up or tear down. Language is an amazing gift that I can use to express my heart or inadvertently reveal it all together.

It reminds me of the tried-and-true principles of great communication. There are dozens, but here are three that are vital. First, mean what you say. Few things are as easily spotted as inauthentic communication. It has been said (not by my dictionary) that flattery is saying something to someone’s face that you would never say behind their back. And slander is saying something behind someone’s back that you would never say to their face. My point is that great communication requires that I am truthful in what I say and authentic in how I say it.

Next, say what you mean. The “right” words are not necessarily precise, long, or eloquent. Great communicators search for the words that are clear. That requires an intuition for reading my audience while sharing my message. Whether I’m talking to my grandson, trying to explain the difference between a dictionary book and a dictionary app, or illustrating to leaders the difference between denotation and connotation, I must work to ensure my audience connects with what I’m saying. Simple, clear, concise communication is usually best.

Finally, make sure there is meaning behind what you are saying. I am referring to the motives behind communication. It is sometimes complicated for someone like me to evaluate my motives because my mouth can be in motion before my mind is in gear. I have sometimes quoted Sean Covey’s well-known observation that one can choose his paths but not the consequences that come with them.  This sentiment is also true about words. Words have consequences because they affect people. Great communication starts by reflecting on whether I want the best for my audience. If my genuine motivation is to help, that usually comes through in my message, even when I bumble my words. As far as I know, no app can help search out my motives. Ironically, that is something best done when I’m quiet.


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