Friday, October 25, 2013

Dfficulties of Communicating Within Society

The Seoul Bulletin recently profiled the World Catholic Association for Communication-Signis, a Catholic lay ecclesial movement for those in communications and media. The Signis World Congress 2013 was scheduled for Oct. 20-23, in Beirut, Lebanon, but because of the turmoil in that part of the world it was cancelled. About 700 professionals are currently involved in the movement. And the writer says that even among them, communication is not easy; communication and mutual understanding are problems for everybody.

All agree that successful communication is absolutely necessary if anything worthwhile is to be accomplished. When there is a breakdown of communication in politics and society, we know all too well what usually happens. The difficulties arise from both those who speak and those who listen.  An Indian proverb says "Those who only speak are deaf." A German proverb says "Those who preach do not listen to the preaching of others."  Both proverbs point to the difficulties of understanding one another: each is speaking or hearing, he says, from their own circumstances. 

The writer mentions that he has been producing radio programs for over 30 years. The need to listen to the needs of the listeners is imperative, he says, and cites the Golden rule: What we desire from the other we should first give; he cites another expression well-known in the West: To walk in another's shoes for awhile before we criticize. In the East there is a similar concept: "Yeokjisaji" which is composed of  four Chinese characters meaning to exchange the place where we are standing for the place of the other. 

He reminds us that those who have become famous in radio broadcasting came across as if speaking on a-one-to-one basis. Those of us in the Church who are concerned with evangelization should be very conscious of this same trait when evangelizing, he says. We are not imposing but  proposing. It all can be reduced to the  love of the another.
Interestingly, when we think of communication we think of the great communicators and their secrets. How do they succeed so well in persuading others?  There are many tricks that are helpful, he says, in persuading others but that is not the only aspect of a  good communicator. Difficult as it might be, he suggests that our individual search for truth should be replaced by a mutual search for the truth, for mutual understanding and humble listening, along with the speaking. A good communicator with charisma,can also be dangerous when he doesn't listen.

In Korea the North and the South have been trying to communicate for over 60 years, with very little success. Each is adamant in trying to  convince the other of their position, with little concern for efforts to better the relationship for all concerned. We have bright people on both sides and yet neither one has succeeded in overcoming the present stalemate. Perhaps it's time,  to change over to "Yeokjisaji" communication if we are put some bridges in place so that both sides can feel comfortable in listening to the  other.

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