I sat in the morning Mass and listened to the homily. I couldn’t understand a word the priest was saying. His accent was too strong. His command of the English language was too weak. My mind wondered. Why am I here? How is this edifying my spirit? I was reminded of the church’s history. For centuries the Mass was given in Latin. The people listening did not speak Latin. What were they getting out of it? A few years ago, there was a push to go back to Latin services. Why? How would this help any non-Latin speaking church-goer?
There is a colleague I work with who likes to use big words. There is nothing wrong with big words unless his intended audience doesn’t understand what he is saying. Some of the words are outdated and are no longer used. Along with his big words is a whole array of adverbs and modifiers. A word to him cannot stand on its own. It has to have a very, an amazingly, an interestingly, or some other –ly ending word preceding it. He takes what should be a simple statement and elaborates to an extent that the meaning is lost.
I had a conversation last week in which I was told my words were stupid. I thought I was being clear. I thought I was being concise. It didn’t matter what I thought. My message was not getting through.
In the Army, we learned how to use the radio. There were two main parts to communication: the sender and receiver. Either you were coming in Lima Charlie (loud and clear) or you were broken and distorted. If you were broken and distorted, your message was not getting through.
If we cannot communicate in way that is understood by the recipient(s), what is the purpose? It is a reminder and a challenge that I have to give to myself. Write in a way that is clear. Speak in a way that my audience understands. The best communication should be simple. No hidden messages, no innuendos. Clear and concise.