More mis-understandings

"That's Not What I Meant"

Dear R. Martin,

Greetings. I just read your EXCELLENT article, "That's Not What I Meant". You did an excellent job of describing people's mis-communication.

When it is all said and done could it be that we are too worried about, "what people will think", so our communication becomes so jaded that it doesn't mean what is said? If we are so concerned about what other people "will think" about... us, our ideas, our thoughts, or what we believe as TRUTH, are we not really being controlled by peer-pressure instead of TRUTH?

Most people will accept something better and quicker if they at least think it is their idea. So some people knowing this, attempt to "lead the witness" is a legal term, of coaching a desired answer by wording the question asked to produce the desired answer.

Black's Law Dictionary, Leading question. One which instructs a witness how to answer or puts into his mouth words to be echoed back. A question which suggests to a witness to answer as desired.

In court this should only be done with a hostile witness from the opposition side, otherwise the judge can reject the question and possibly hurt your witness's credibility and case.  It is obvious the opposition would give an opposite answer, therefore it is ok, to attempt to coach an adversary in this way. But those which are supposed to know the truth and stand for the truth should not have to be told in a question what truth is.

Between people which know each other very well, intimate effective communication can be had with just a glance of the eyes. Sometimes even the "wrong words" can be said, but they are correctly rearranged by the hearer and there is NO mis-communication. This normally only happens between parties which are real familiar with each other, or know each other to already be in complete agreement on a subject or topic... 

Yet if there was a contrary party present they could perhaps easily mis-understand, what was being said wrongly, by accident unintended mis-speaking.  Yet other people seem to attempt to do this, on purpose, to obtain a false agreement or to wear down the opposition or over-come an objection. Or to give a wrong impression to throw-off the other party... But it is not done honestly and truthfully, or by accident, when done to manipulate.

As we begin to see how complex even accurate communication can be we are all challenged. Is there, therefore any better way to communicate than to OPENLY and HONESTLY present our facts, logically, clearly, and as thoughtfully as possible... To the goal of keeping the communication CLEAR, STRAIGHT FORWARD, and above all, to be understood. i.e. The transfer of the thought from one person's mind to another's is TRUE communication.  Whether we argue with what is being communicated is another question. This is where openness and dexterity are the keys to success in both relationships, reconciliation, and determining truth.  How else shall true disagreements be settled than by honest, open communication?

Most people realize that in measurements this is true. If a man wants twenty foot lumber, he must clearly request twenty foot lumber. The question can be asked, WHY. Is it possible that 2 twelve foot pieces could be substituted for each twenty foot piece requested and still meet the customers needs without any extra cost?... but then even that will not work in ALL APPLICATIONS because the customer might need the full unbroken twenty foot length.  

Like if a Lady orders a dress Size 16. To an experienced seamstress, she is going to ask for a full set of measurements because she knows not all patterns, manufacturers, or dress makers have the exact same measurements for "THEIR" standard size 16. So we see that the supposed exact size is not necessarily exact. All dresses sized as "16" will not fit all ladies the same.  Therefore they really are not the same size even though they are all marked the same.  Situations like this can become confusing to novices in Biblical things as well. There can be many applications to a single verse, but only one proper teaching.

Yet it is very clear to everyone that in the two above examples there is only one sure way of doing the job RIGHT the first time. And that is to communicate open and honestly as to the exactness of measurements, applications, desires, and what the customer will be satisfied with "if the customer really knows?"

This is why for myself as a person, being on the scientific side, a male (in the left brain - which is more logical), I structure MOST of my conversation in absolute openness and honest facts... I do this, instead of playing games, trying to work around my preconceived thoughts of how something I might say, MIGHT effect another person's emotions. This many times will produce a strong, stiff, absolute opinion, of what my present thoughts are on a particular topic.  Even satire is used to make strong points stronger.  A person who wears their emotions and feelings on their shoulder can not be very objective therefore in evaluating TRUTH and leaving their emotional feelings out of the picture.  Even Christ insulted the Pharisees (supposed learned men) when they made master mistake after master mistake in biblical logic.  But powerful communication took place and the facts got recorded cutting the none sense to the bone.

I have learned many people are threatened by total open and honest communication.  They might be hiding something, they might be ashamed of something or someone, they might not be able to or want to accept the truth on a matter because it will hurt their existing friendships, job, or step on their family or cultural tradition or their "holy cows"...  In short, many people, perhaps most people actually "think" with their emotions and the cause and effect that might come into their life in the future if forced to face certain FACTS...  Therefore as the ostrich, these people prefer to find excuses to hide their head in the sand and pretend that what they think is correct and can not be disproved.  Not many people are able to openly, honestly, and truthfully evaluate a doctrine, thought, or idea which is contrary to their long held current belief system.  So the decision to decide what TRUTH is, is determined from an emotional basis instead of from a factual basis.

After all if a person really wants to know what you think on a topic, do they really, or are they just asking you to feed them a line of what you believe they would like to hear to make them happy with you??????? Personally I believe too many people are caught-up in this paranoid way of so-called communicating and then they wonder why their relationships are so shallow and fragile as life goes on.  They never get REAL with people.

Have you ever noticed that people which have a lot of friends perhaps really have a lot of acquaintances but few real friends which would go out of their way to help you in your time of need.  Sometimes we see this even within families themselves.

To a person like myself, a deep communicator, interested in what really makes the other people "tick" and if we are truly filled with the Holy Spirit as we all claim to be, then pray tell why aren't we able to come to agreement within the scriptures... or is this the difference in hearing from the Holy Spirit and hearing our own spirit of intuition, or even just leaning upon our own understanding? If we will honestly and openly clearly fully explain what we believe and each before the Bible evaluate the strengths and weakness of each so-called doctrine to test ourselves whether we be in the faith indeed or some self delusion.

As for myself, I pour my heart out, and really desire to hear the other side, with the thought that the oppose side desires to know equally why I believe that they COULD be wrong, as much as I must honestly consider that they COULD be right and myself wrong. If both sides are not EQUALLY AS OPEN to the possibility that they could be the one wrong.  The HONEST party is put at a disadvantage even if his view is the correct one. The other party if not honest in checking to be sure his doctrine is correct just goes further into self-delusion or self-deception; which is a very dangerous condition spiritually.  The result of being full of pride and self conceit.

Let it be assumed both sides will have some good thoughts, some points of truth, but in doctrine it must flow within the pages of ALL SCRIPTURE, be disconnected from our emotional attachments to other groups and ministers, depending on past events should be able to be seen in history (and not some false history interjected by some enemies of truth) in an attempt to confuse or nullify truth. As we see it is a complex exchange of a lot of information which therefore must only be communicated with openness and honesty, by FACTS, PROOFS, and not emotional jangling. Emotion, feelings, and fleshly thoughts have very little if anything to do with establishing BIBLICAL TRUTH when it comes to DOCTRINE, or salvation for that matter.

For we walk not by sight and feelings, but we walk by FAITH and the TRUTH of the word of YaHWeH. The name issue is a great mirror to the FACT that people (even Christians) are still more directed by traditions that feels comfortable to them than the historical NAME of God given thousands of years ago and still in tact in the Hebrew Bible today. Man is not willing to agree with God, he rather agree with his fellow-man or Eve instead. Not much has changed since the Garden within fallen man's thinking, most of us still choose man instead of God to side with.  Adam choose Eve instead of obeying God's commandment.

So when people like myself, reach out in openness and honesty, and are meet with quietness we might WRONGLY ASSUME the other party is in agreement with us. Later we find out they aren't and we therefore rightfully feel betrayed. But just wanted to share that this has happened several times to me. I am slowly learning not to let this hurt me. It is MY PROBLEM, not the other people, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they are just not verbal. But I also realize a person can never have a deep relationship with such an one because you never REALLY know where you stand with that person. They are dangerous, because you don't really know them, therefore they are unpredictable in situations which require a higher level of trust.

The person which is always looking for the hidden meanings in every sentence does very badly with me because normally I mean what I say and say what I mean...  I'm more interested in communicating the exactness of the thought than worried about what toes might get walked on in the process.  Yet this does not erase all wordings and meanings of phrases from being mis-understood, simply because we do not all talk the same or have the same vocabulary or attach the same meanings to all words the same. I was raised and schooled in secular America. I have learned that Mennonites have or use or apply different meanings to some of the same words we both use. Having checked the dictionary a couple of times I was shocked to find out they were using the dictionary usage. I hate to say this but secular America does not use the dictionary as much, therefore secular America does not use some definitions which ONCE applied to certain words.

For Example: LOUD is used strictly as to volume level in secular America today.

LOUD to a Mennonite means, forward, aggressive, continuous in speech.

Mennonites use the word, LOUD and apply it more to style instead of volume.  But secular America usually applies the word, LOUD more to volume instead of style related to demeanor.


FUN is rarely used in regards to work if ever, it's primarily a recreational term in secular USA

However, "FUN" is used many times to describe work by Mennonites.  Secular America would call work "enjoyable", but not fun, because it is work.

Secular America views a person that likes their job, as enjoying their work instead of dreading it, as most of them do.  FUN is a word normally reserved for a "higher emotional enjoyment" in "play" or recreational activities instead of productive activities. Also FUN is thought of in a higher more emotional greater level of enjoyment than someone which enjoys their work on their job.  So just like LOUD we see secular America's word choices as intensity sensitive and more application specific.  Secular America has narrowed the meanings of these words by their most common everyday usage, which just magnifies the narrowing effect, via cultural tradition.

I am sure there are many more words which are likewise SHADED by the cultural back drop of the speaker and the listener making for slight mis-communication. Both parties of any age believe they "KNOW" the definition the way they are accustomed to using a particular word and therefore we see the cultural barrier to effective, clear, communication. Each party "perceives their own reality" which is shaded by their own mis-understanding of the others "intended reality" to be communicated using the same words which to them have different meanings.

Now it is also true that some religious groups do take common words and apply different meanings to them so that a common sentence can mean entirely different things to different hearers.

When we link these cultural differences together with Biblical cultural differences (this even runs between denominational "traditions" of people that use the same dictionary) we have areas for misunderstandings to arise.  And many times we don't even realize this is happening.

Therefore only clear, honest, open, sincere, COMPLETE, communication can defuse such misunderstandings. It is human to think that everyone knows, what we know, and that they don't know, what we don't know. We unconsciously operate with this bias in communication, most everyone does, for there are very few of us which would be on guard against this happening. Because we don't know, THAT WE DON'T KNOW. 

After all we insult someone's intelligence if we give too detailed instruction on every little issue.  Yet in home schooling we parents realize we are instructing our children, so some of us (me included) become great lecturers. And of course, the more formal education (secular and religious) we have had, the more formal lecturing we have heard, the more books and study we have done and the more we perhaps have to pass on.  So these will tend to be more vocal and elaborate in their instruction.

But we can totally leave someone in the dark if they don't know something, ask the right questions and are given a simple one or two word answer that would be sufficient for a knowledgeable person within an area of understanding. Take for instants in tanning, how do you make the pelts soft? Brains. The untrained person will believe you are withholding information, especially if they are shy and afraid to ask again for more details. On the other hand, I cross examine a person with so many questions to be sure I'm understanding them, that they have to end up saying the whole thing a couple of times and almost get upset with me. Probably think I'm ignorant. Actually I'm picking their brain so I know exactly what they are telling me FOR SURE. How else can ACCURATE communication happen?

Use the BRAINS to make a concoction to apply to the skin to make it soft. That is the tanning secret and there's enough brains in the head of the animal being tanned, to make the pelt soft. So how do you make the concoction? How is it applied? How long, How often, etc. etc.

If we would get past the attitudes (either real or imaginary) to just the facts we would find we could really communicate much better. Perhaps society is so insecure today that people must "FEEL" you are on their side or they just can not communicate? PERIOD. Unfortunately most people "THINK" emotionally just as Eve did. This causes bad fruit to be had and eaten. We must realize we have to get beyond our emotional barriers for clear, honest, accurate, communication to happen... Even the worst enemies can communicate if they will do that... If they or one refuses to get past the emotion of HATE, that is to operate in UNFORGIVENESS, more misunderstanding will occur and things will become worst instead of better.

If after clear, honest, communication so that both sides clearly understand where the other side stands or thinks on an issue --- and no one is willing to change --- and there is no additional information or effecting situations to the whole picture... Then we will just have to agree to disagree... which can be done agreeably... This is not to say that we are HAPPY with the result or the thoughts of the other party... But each party knows where the other party stands and what the other party will do given said circumstances and if they are happy to allow each other to live, think, believe that way, and act as expected within the Liberty of God's Love... we can have peace and harmony without full agreement... This is what is called respect... Which does not mean complete agreement... Perhaps in this case it would be better called HONOR and RESPECT...

We can respect a bully, which causes us to stay away from him. (But we don't HONOR him) we despise him for his wrong attitudes and conduct. The Bully brings his judgment upon people which don't desire or agree with him. Therefore we understand that the Bully does NOT respect others except for fear sake and the Bully does not honor any unless they have POWER over him or they agree with him (these would be his friends). But the bully never humbles himself to the weak for he is proud and will fight for control to have his way.  (Whether it is right or not). 

So when a friend knowingly transgresses your authority in a judgmental manner (meaning forcing his will upon an area of your authority by actions, not just his thoughts, AGAINST YOUR WILL; this is judgment). This friend does not HONOR or RESPECT you at this point but has become a bully instead of a friend.

This is what happens in Holy Kidnapping and ex-communication; and any time leadership or church authority refuses to be open to the clear word of God on any subject.  Just as the Pope, if given enough power, they will play the bully.  The political bully will only bully to the point he has politically gained the agreement of the group being lead, controlled, or manipulated. After this he will continue in a political fashion to be perceived as a person which is for free-will so long as that free-will does not come against his program (which is presented in an on going fashion) to make the followers believe and think they are actually directing the agenda.

I still believe these things happen because there was not honest, open, sincere, and complete communication between the parties or a lot of trouble could have been fore seen and could have been avoided. Next comes the excuse, I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME.


Time is the primary ingredient to making relationships. Time communicating, not time working, not time playing, not time sleeping, but time coming to know each other heart to heart. That is not to say we don't learn about people in work, play, and visiting someone's home... but we really don't learn to know a person until we have intimate heart to heart conversations about our struggles, our hopes, our goals, our desires, our understanding of doctrine, our short comings, our strengths, our salvation...

This takes time and is important in forming any new home... So many times we just jump into things and then hope for the best. It would be nicer to know people, and where they are coming from... It is true that some people just refuse to get close to people --- because they have been hurt in the pass and as we get more open and intimate with others we become more vulnerable to hurt, slander, and gossip...

So obviously people which major in talking about other people are not to be trusted. Of course, if we trust no one, we never get close to no one, and we must be happy or sad with ourselves which can be very lonely. It is clear to many of us "people, that need people, are the luckiest people in the world" to quote a secular hit song from thirty years ago. I think it was called, "PEOPLE". Or perhaps "people that need people".

God has made us social creatures and yet there is the part of me which desires to be totally alone to be away from everyone and all there troubles and the coming trouble upon this earth between people. Then there is the other side of me which craves friendship, even DEEP friendship, joyful fellowship, happy times... Unfortunately it seems some supposed to be happy times end up un-happy times... and we feel badly about that. Which drives us back to ourselves keeping ourselves from all of those which will hurt us. The need to be alone with God. The need to be alone, un-troubled by the world. So here we are pulled between the two. Christ went to the mountain top to be alone and to the garden to pray alone.  Yet Christ was very available to everyone, hypocrite, disciples, children, mother and brethren, were all able to find him and he took THE TIME to be with each of them. TIME to communicate openly and honestly. Then Christ especially had TIME for those of HIS own following.

And communication is the element of meeting, learning, trusting, fellowshipping, caring, disagreeing and being... And especially taking the TIME to do so... communicating is the place where it all starts... Communication is the action of one person relating to another from the most basic word as, NO. To the most complete thoughts capable for the human mind to think; and very thing in between which makes up life as to social relationships in marriage, homes, families, churches, governments, societies, and the world.

Assumption is not communication. Unless it is triggered by one person that gives THE CORRECT THOUGHT intended to another, at that time; but this is still communication then. Assumption is a none communicated guess or conclusion from logic, not a transferred thought.  Assumption otherwise is the mother of misunderstandings which is another topic.

So how shall we win the lost? COMMUNICATION. Preaching the TRUTH. But we must meet them on their ground and move from there. This will require us to understand them, not them understand us, which hopefully will come later if we are successful. As we understand them we will be able to effectively communicate so they will be able to see Christ in us the hope of glory.

Don't you think CHRIST is pretty much mis-understood by the world? Of course. Well, how do you think they got that why?

Thank you,

Dale Sabin

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