Thursday | Things I'm Thinking
You've probably seen this, or a paragraph like it at some point posted on Facebook.
Try to read it as fast as you can. Ready? GO!
I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
Crazy isn't it?
In case you want to see the correct paragraph, Click here.
So, our minds can take a mixed up paragraph and make perfect sense of it, yet when we are talking to a friend, deciphering a family member's comment or listening to a public figure speak (politician, preacher, pundit), we struggle sometimes to hear the meaning of the message.
Thursdays on the blog are devoted to things that are on my mind.
The topic of communication is always on my mind. It's my passion, hobby and vocation. I communicate for a living. A huge portion of my calling is conveying a message. Improvement is my constant goal. I want to be a better speaker, a better righter and a better listener.
It seems so easy...say some words, hear some words, understand the words. Done.
Truth is, communication is complex. This two-way street of relaying messages and meaning is just plain messy. It takes hard work to convey messages clearly and to hear them accurately.
Yesterday I messed up. I used the wrong word in a caption I wrote for a picture. I wrote where when I meant wear. We had some fun Facebook banter over the goof. Though I used the wrong wear, everyone knew what I meant. It was not the end of the world, and it gave us all a good laugh.
This simple mistake reminded me once again that this great exchange we call communication is messy. One misplaced word completely changes the meaning of a text.
You know by now, we're in election season. The gotcha game is in full-swing. The misuse of one word gets played ad infinitum and picked to shreds ad nauseum.
Romney introduces Ryan as the next President of the United States, instead of VICE President...
Obama refers to having visited 57 states, with one to go...
Quinn refers to the death of Obama, when in fact, he meant Osama...
Biden...ah, better stop with Quinn.
The point? We know what they meant, but we are predisposed in modern American un-civil-ization to play gotcha with those with whom we disagree. We cannot wait for imperfection to pop into the picture.
When it comes down to it, our minds are better than our hearts. "I know what he meant, but..."
We can blame the 24-hour news cycle, talk radio, nasty campaign spin-machines, etc. Bottom line, it's us. We chose to be confused, believing that the person with whom we disagree is stupid at best, and evil at worst.
This is not intended to be a political rant. I hope that is not what you are hearing. The political silly season simply serves as a backdrop for my point. We are far to quick to find fault rather than hear the message behind the misspeak.
Twenty-seven years ago this week I asked Kim to marry me.
Can I admit something? I have not always been the most mature fighter. Early on I was much, much worse. I've improved, but can still slip into seven-year-old mode every once in a while.
Kim has a great memory. She can recall details. She can recite the transcript of a conversation perfectly. She would have made a great attorney. In moments of intense disagreement, times I clearly knew she was right, I would do what any good defense team does...I'd try to get the truth thrown out on a technicality. She may have been right, but I objected to her tone, or to one word she used which was inflammatory (inflammatory of course as defined by me). I'd argue process rather than concede to the point.
Why? Immaturity. I was being immature.
I knew what she meant. I even knew she was right, but I was being immature.
We could use a bit more maturity in our communication, especially toward those with whom we are already prone to disagree. Rather than sitting, sharpening our knives, waiting for a verbal misstep, we could actually give the other person the benefit of doubt...we could extend grace...we could try to understand rather than perfecting our immaturity.
As the senders of messages, we need to be as precise as possible. Using the right wear matters! It is vital to say what we mean and mean what we say.
It is also important as receivers of messages that we listen in order to gain understanding. People make mistakes. It is incumbent on us to try to clarify the meaning even in the face of a verbal gaff.
At the beginning of this post, you accepted the challenge of attempting as quickly as possible to understand a confusing paragraph. Can I extend a much more serious challenge? Let's strive to be people who listen with such an ample dose of grace that we might actually hear what is being said, even if the speaker's delivery is less than perfect.
PS Did you pass your first test? I wrote righter instead of writer in the eighth "paragraph."
How'd you do? Were you tempted to stop before finishing the post to write a comment? Did you think, "Moron...he's writing about writing and used the wrong write? Did you pity me? Did you wonder how I made it through college let alone grad school? Did you pray for me? Did you notice? Did you care?
Let me know in a comment.
BTW--I'm sure there were others typos. Those just come with the territory! Thanks for coming back and listening despite the glaring imperfections!