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A Failure to Communicate

I walked into the leadership meeting with my travel mug of green tea. My colleague smiled at me pointed to the coffee pot and said, “You didn’t need to bring your own from home, we have coffee here.” My response was simple and I thought quite clear, “Its tea.” Her reaction puzzled me as she walked over to the coffee pot, looked at it, smelled it and said as a matter of fact, “No, I’m quite certain it’s coffee.” At which point I held up my mug and said, “No, I have tea. I don’t drink coffee.” We both laughed and went about our business.

Words are one of the critical tools leaders have for communicating. Yet there is too often a failure to communicate with our words. We talk to our colleagues or our disciples using words which everyone can understand yet misunderstandings still happen. In high pressure situations it is tempting to repeat the same words, say them more loudly and firmly with the belief that this will solve the failure to communicate. As leaders it is best to accept our own culpability and take responsibility. Extend a little grace to others; be willing to laugh at our own foibles.

Abbott and Costello, the comedy team from the forties created a marvellous film best known as “Who’s On First?” It is a classic sketch. Go ahead and watch for the first time or the hundredth time. Hopefully it will help you to see the humour in your own failure, at least on occasion, to communicate. Enjoy!  Brian

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