KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
By Rabbi Shea Hecht
Ever notice how it’s becoming more
and more difficult to get a smile out of someone in passing, let
alone a nice hello? I believe that I have gotten a clue as to
the reason why…
Put yourself in the following situations: 1) You’re on your way
to shul Shabbos morning when you see your neighbor in the
street. You nod and say “Good Shabbos”; 2) You run into a
wedding to wish your best to the celebrating families. you push
your way through the crush of people to the father of the bride
and say “mazal tov”; 3) You come home from the office at the end
of the day. Your first grader tells you that he got a 100 on his
test. You say, “wow, that’s great”.
What do all of these scenarios have in common? In all of them,
there’s a very strong possibility that our acknowledgements are
not being received at all. And depending on our frame of mind,
they all bear the potential to create a terrible breakdown in
Let’s face it. Words, especially without enthusiasm, are pretty
cheap. Let’s also face up to the fact that if we’re running a
little low on energy, or if we had a tough day at work, our kind
words have probably just evaporated into the air without having
done their job of delivering their brief message of goodwill.
What aggravates the situation is that this all usually goes
right over our heads. Our child thinks we don’t appreciate his
test score, our neighbor feels slighted and our friend struggles
to remember if we even came to their child’s wedding. And even
as this happens, we see ourselves as having done our best to
maintain a sociable and neighborly disposition.
In such exchanges one side feels a pang of neglect while the
other is not only oblivious, but actually feels fulfilled.
That’s what we call terrible communication. Yes, the words are
there, but no one actually hears them.
Anyone who needs an example of how this works can take a moment
to smile into the mirror. Is the face smiling back at you what
you expected? My guess is that it’s probably not. The smile that
we see looking back at us and the smile that we think we're
giving are, in fact, two different faces. In our minds, we are
beaming a bright, happy smile. Unless that mirror is lying, our
actual expression is a foggy middle ground somewhere between
pleasure and pain.
The mirror test is true for any type of communication. The
amount of energy and enthusiasm that it takes to give the smile
that we really want to give is much greater than we think. And
so too with our words. In order to say the words that we really
want to say, we must invest a great deal of our energy and
attention into what we’re saying.
Communication is focusing not on what we want to “give”, but
upon what we want the other person to “get”. That means that a
greeting must be not only audible, but even cheerful and lively.
A smile (especially one covered by a bushy beard) really does
need to change the look of the face, and maybe even show a few
Communication is the essence of any relationship. If we want our
friends, family and neighbors to feel fulfilled, we have to
invest ourselves into our words and actions so that they show
energy and enthusiasm, and actually inspire goodwill.
|Rabbi Shea Hecht
Chairman of the
National Committee for
Furtherance of Jewish Education .
His web site is:
KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE! כושר דילייט - מגזין
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