Cool Hand Luke is one of my all-time favorite movies. There is a great line in the movie where the Captain of the prison guards (played by Strother Martin) is talking to Paul Newman about his behavior issues. He says in his Southern twang voice, “What we got here is a failure to communicate.” It is both funny and sadly ironic that we could use that line on a daily basis with someone in OUR lives.

We need to learn the art of communicating. Everyone wants to be heard but few are willing to listen. We tend to be formulating our argument or next comment before the other person has even finished their statement. That causes all kinds of problems because the other person never feels truly heard. In truth, they have a right to feel misunderstood if we don’t listen to them.

There is an old adage that says: We have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately. Too many of us don’t take that to heart. Some people take it as a challenge and it becomes a duel of words, and they are determined to get in the last lick (pun intended).

If there is a wall between you and someone else, get over it. Communicating with someone who has shut you out or shut you down can be daunting if not impossible. So, what can be done?

  1. Build a bridge by letting them know you are open to communicating.
  2. Be willing to hear things that are probably going to hurt and may cut you to the core.
  3. Apologize for things you have done wrong.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.

You probably have heard this: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I wish we could all remember that simple rule of kindness.

I know that sometimes you can’t continue a relationship due to abuse. In that case, you can still get over it by forgiving them and moving on. Boundaries are for your own sanity and safety. Those things should never be sacrificed, but if it is possible to mend the relationship, then by all means, build the bridge and attempt to cross it.


Dan Skognes

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