Thinking Out Loud

December 15, 2014

Communications Breakdown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:08 am

I love this story. This is from Paul Pastor who has been my editor at PARSE for 18 months now and will be moving into some new areas of ministry in the new year. I didn’t actually ask his permission to run this, but you know the saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” Thanks, Paul, for a great working relationship the past year-and-a-half.

Ever been part of a communications breakdown? We had a similar situation occur with our kids involving, coincidentally, Prince Edward Island, but unfortunately it’s not fit to print here! So we’ll use Paul’s story instead…

We ate that night at a white-tablecloth restaurant in a re-purposed funeral chapel. Candles flickered beneath a vaulted ceiling, and couples savored red wine. Under an antique stained glass window (Christ conquering Death), my wife and I drank post-feast coffee and chipped into brittle crème brulee.

Steamed MusselsWe’d had a hard time with the menu. There were so many good choices. A coastal couple, we love seafood, so this stood out: “Prince Edward Island Black Mussels—steamed with white wine and garlic shallot butter.” Mmmmm.

Foolishly, we chose against them.

As our meal was ending, a waiter carried a platter of the shellfish to the table across the room. They steamed and crackled in their buttery abundance, hissing to be savored, to be devoured.

“Oh, the mussels! Just look at those mussels!” I sighed with loud desire.

I don’t know who all heard it, but the two that mattered were my wife and the bodybuilder in training (stuffed into a dress shirt and slacks) who was walking in front of me on his way out. Mussels. Muscles. Just look at them!

Hearing my adoration, he walked taller, flexing his way out of the restaurant into the spring night. My wife only stared. At me, at him, at me.

:: :: :: ::

Sometimes people hear things that we aren’t saying. Sometimes we say things that people aren’t hearing. Sometimes language gets in its own way, context gets twisted, and your date hears your comment on seafood as the appreciation of some guy’s physique. Sometimes we preach and sing and discuss Jesus without realizing that nothing we’re saying is connecting with those around us. Something’s in the way.

My grandpa used to say “the first mistake in communication is the assumption that you’ve communicated.” Mussels. Muscles. Just look at them.

May what you say and what people hear always be one and the same. May the findings below prompt thought in that direction. And may I just order the mussels next time.




  1. One of our readers always prays before a sermon that she’ll say and we’ll hear what God wants her/us to. I can’t remember the exact words. Sue

    Comment by suesconsideredtrifles — December 15, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  2. What a story…great linking to a relevant lesson..thanks.

    Comment by Wally Fry — December 15, 2014 @ 11:31 am

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