I had an interesting lesson in communication today. I was meeting with a woman who has been deaf since childhood. She is very good at lip reading and also ‘speaks’ quite successfully. But still, I was worried. How does communication work when stripped of voice tone and mediated by hand gestures, notes and frantic typing on a laptop? (plenty of creative spelling on my part, I can tell you…)
Well, it was extraordinary. We had something specific we wanted to talk about, which meant that there was a focus that is sometimes lacking in pastoral visits. But the difficulties in communication meant that we were careful not to waste words. There was no dithering, no beating around the bush; just straightforward conversation that went as far as it could (for now) into the topic at hand.
It was liberating to be able to stay so focused. It seems that the challenge to communicate is such that there is neither time nor need to second guess. Life would feel very different if conversation were always so purposeful and direct, with a cup of tea afterwards once the business is done.