Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Getting the point across

My wife and I were getting ready to go to Saskatoon, an hour’s drive from our home.  I thought we needed to leave by 9:30 to accomplish all we wanted to do.  I busied myself getting ready, preparing the things I needed to take to the places I needed to go.  My wife was busy with other things in the house and didn’t appear to be in much of a hurry.  My frustration began to mount and I was on the verge of saying something when a little voice in my head said: “How is she supposed to know that you want to leave by 9:30?  You never told her that.”

I did say something to her then, but it had an altogether different tone than what I had originally thought of saying.  We didn’t get away at 9:30, yet there was still time to accomplish all we wanted to do and to enjoy the day.

We lived next door to a family with a girl the same age as our daughter.  The mother worked full-time as a nurse, yet was a super-neat, super-efficient housekeeper.  She wanted her daughter to learn to keep house like she did, but she was in too much of a hurry to bear with the poor girl’s fumbling attempts.  It was so much quicker to just do it herself.  Her daughter never acquired much in the way of housekeeping skills until she was grown up and on her own.

Dad gives his son instructions on how to do a job, then leaves for work.  When he comes home, he finds that his son has hit a snag and abandoned the job.  Dad grumbles that if he wants a job done right he’ll just have to do it himself.

A family business hires a new employee who is not of the family.  The employee is given a list of responsibilities and sent to work.  It isn’t long until the new employee quits or is fired because he/she never did figure out just what was expected of him/her.

If only one person understands what is expected, no real communication has taken place.  In the case of a child or a new worker, words are usually not enough.  A more effective approach is to work with the child or employee until one is confident they can do the job without further coaching.

Part of my job in the quality assurance department of  an auto parts plant some years ago was developing operating procedures to be posted at each piece of equipment in the plant.  This may sound silly, but it was a great help to someone who had operated this machine for one day several months ago and now was once again assigned to it.  Another visual aid was to put up samples of unacceptable defects that made a part unusable and of minor visual defects that were acceptable because they did not in any way compromise the function of the part.

Effective communication does not always require a lot of words.  My wife knew a lady who was a Bosnian refugee.  One day her son brought home a fish and cleaned it over the toilet bowl, plugging the toilet.  Desanka went to Canadian Tire to buy a plunger, but didn’t know what it is called  in English.  She went to a clerk and said “I want,” then made vigorous up and down pumping motions with her hands clasping an imaginary handle.  He understood immediately.

Tell me, I’ll forget;
Show me, I’ll remember;
Work with me, I’ll understand.
-author unknown

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