The Art of Communication

The note was attached to the front page of our morning newspaper. “Dear customer,” it read, “I am taking over my daughter’s route for the next few weeks. Getting up very early to drive the route is too hard for her at this time. She is expecting a baby in the next few weeks. She doesn’t want to give up the route because it is a steady source of income for her family. For this reason I will be doing her route for a while. I would appreciate your patience. If your paper is late, I hope you will forgive me.”

I smiled when I read it. I’m not one to complain about a late newspaper, anyway, but with a thoughtful, sweet note like that, I would have waited until Christmas.

Interacting successfully with other people, as we all know, is one of the great challenges of life. That is why I think this man’s note to his daughter’s customers was pure genius. The letter was written in a candid, open-hearted way. He had anticipated a problem and acted to prevent it. This is an example of communication at its best.

The word “communicate” to many people implies writing or speaking but it is much more than that. It is an art form.

We’ve all known people who are lonely and frustrated but they don’t understand why. In some cases, part of the problem is poor communication skills. Perhaps they don’t express themselves adequately. In other cases, they are unable to see how their words or actions impact others. Grudges, hurt feelings, and resentment can result. These individuals lack what my Native American friends, the Lenni-Lenape people, call “the Spirit of Awareness.”

Communicating in a way that brings out the best in ourselves as well as others is a worthy goal, one that we can all aspire to. It takes hard work and practice. I so admire those who do it well, like the man who took the time to write a note to his daughter’s paper-route customers. Kudos to him, whoever he is.

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