Apart from God's Word, there is no more important study in the world than communication. Without communication, the Bible would be of no use to human beings. Hence, this page is presented to help improve your communication skills.
Communication can be complicated or simplistic
Updated: 3.29.19 Updated
"Apart from God's Word, there is no more important study in the world than communication. Without communication, the Bible would be of no use to human beings. Hence, this page is presented to help improve your communication skills" (see above). I have no doubts that this is true, which is one of the most encouraging thoughts I have internalized. This has helped me in my pursuit of a career in communications, that helps me share God's eternal truths. God's Word is communication's raison d'etre.
Communication can become complicated for a number of reasons, beyond the incorrect use of syntax and semantics. The backstory of complicated, sometimes convoluted, communication is the story of human nature, which of itself is fickle. The intention of good communication can be modified and/or colored by human selfishness. What might start out as good intention can end up colored by selfish desires. Such desires can and do complicate our ability to help others, through communication.
Communication can be more simplistic the closer it is to God's automotistic spiritual laws. The apostle Paul said to the converted Jews that even the Gentiles, who didn't know God's laws, would be rewarded for obeying those laws, though they might not know why they were rewarded (inconsequential to them :).
So when communication is helpful to others, it likely is following God's laws or principles on His laws. Again, speakers and writers don't have to know they are in harness with God's laws for their simplistic messages to get through to others. Selflessness in communication can help all others, in a myriad of ways.
What this all gets down to, whether one communicates well or not, is a godly attitude. Attitude is one thing, but a godly attitude is the stasis of social exchange: a state of equilibrium. The apostle Paul said clearly and boldly that he had the mind of Christ. True statement. He didn't say he knew all that Christ knew but he did believe that all that he knew and practiced came from Christ. He communicated effectively throughout his 14 letters by way of godly communication with a godly attitude, or perspective. Although this represents the quintessence of encoding and decoding messages, it takes nothing away from Paul's use of classic argumentation: a balanced combination of rhetoric (the faculty of discovering the available means of persuasion in a given case), logic (structures of reasoning concerned with relationships among statements rather than statements and audiences), and dialectic (a process of discovering/testing knowledge through questions and answers).
Although Paul's letters can be a little difficult to understand (at first), once you study the Bible over time through faithful prayer, familiarizing yourself to God's outlook on life from many different writers' perspectives (led by God's Spirit of course), you can understand Paul's writings much better; they then become pretty simplistic and exciting to explore. First though one must get in harness with God and know His mind. Paul was selfless in his writings, I didn't say Paul was perfect, which accounts for his effectiveness in helping a few million people for good over the last 2,000 years (through his writings, of course; compare Jesus' promise of serving future disciples through the writings of His anointed/ordained servents: "I do not pray for these (disciples who became apostles) alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (their writings in the NT)" (John 17:20).
May God help you to improve your communication to better help others; that's why you and I were born and why we draw the breath of life on this earth.~jwa
Check out your reaction time.
You might want to check out your reaction time. Can be frustrating, but it's always interesting. All part of the cognitive process :).
All the best.~jwa
A Quote from General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur's Address to the U.S. Congress in April, 1951
Thanks for turning to my comm page. Here is MacArthur's telling words that really fit with my Personal Page, regarding the pursuit of good leadership! From time immemorial, human beings have rejected God's holy and perfect leadership. We're still paying the heavy price for this and will continue until God sends Christ to bail us out of our ongoing ineptitude.
"Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start workable methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful. Military alliances, balances of power, Leagues of Nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence [i.e., renewal] and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past 2000 years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."
Notice that the General insightfully pinpointed humanity's basic problem, our human nature, in contrast to God's nature. "The problem is basically theological (of God) and involves a SPIRITUAL RENEWAL and improvement of human character. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh." Wise insight here.
Have a great weekend and Father's Day, all you dads!~jwa
My beginnings in grad communication studies
Back in 1968, I was about to graduate from a private school in Pasadena, California called Ambassador College. It was a small undergrad school but it was the most beautiful one in the country, bar none (you should be able to find this archived somewhere). In fact, Ambassador College, in the mid to late 60s, was rated as number one in the nation, in the appearance and maintenance of their grounds. I have only the highest regard for AC, attending the most enjoyable campus I've ever been on...and I've been on a few (listed below).
The buildings were former residences of Pasadena millionaires, well-built and impressive looking. This is where I had classes! I felt like a prince in this environment. Coming from humble beginnings, living in a small two-story farm house with very little insulation, where winter blizzard conditions dumped heavy snows accompanied by 30 mph winds, creating snow drifts 15 feet high and all this without, I say without...central heat...you can only imagine how I cherished the time I spent on campus, a total of 6 and 1/2 years (four of those years included my undergrad work).
My wife got to spend 10 years on campus (four years for her undergrad work and six years as head of the college library and a couple of years pursuing a Master's degree in Library Science at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles). We both graduated from Ambassador College, as did our son and daughter. Our daughter Crystal got two undergrad degrees at Ambassador College which became Ambassador University: One in science; one in the arts.
She (our daughter) has since acquired a Master's in Leadership Education and is now Ph.D. in IDD (Instructional Design and Development degree). She runs a department at the University of South Alabama, Mobile (acronym: USA) and teaches classes as well.
Our son Philip has been "Dr. Phil" for 20+ years and teaches Leadership Communication, Organizational Communication, and Rhetorical Theory at Kennesaw State University, Atlanta (check out his page at the KSU web site). He wrote a groundbreaking book called "The Essence of Who We Are," now published. You can check it out at Amazon.com.
In 1968 I was asked whether I wanted to graduate with a split degree in Theology and Communications. My degree reads "Bachelor of Arts." I had taken every communication class Ambassador had. We were long on practicum and less on theory; not complaining. I didn't know communication theory until I pursued my Master's in Communicaton at California State University some 20 years later. It helped change my life.
Before I matriculated at California State University, Fullerton, I was accepted and studied in the MA Communication program at Wichita State University back in 1978; a year later a transfer in the field ministry interrupted that program.
In 1990 I was accepted to the MA Communication program at California State University, Fullerton. Four years later, I had my MA in Communication, with an emphasis in Rhetorical Theory (Persuasion). My thesis was entitled "Ronald Reagan's Rhetoric: Metaphor as Persuasion." As a published book, it holds a spot on the CSUF shelves.
At the end of my Master's program, I began to take media classes at Fullerton College, a two-year college that had an incredibly large enrollment of over 20,000 students! They had some hi-calibre instructors, some of them notable celebs in all forms of media, since Orange County has its share of retired celebs, musicians, vocalists, actors, etc. I studied television announcing (in front of and behind the camera), radio news (writing and performance, live on air), Voice-Overs, and PR. At the same time, I went to the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and took a doctoral class in communication, hoping to get into their doctoral program.
Still later, I was accepted (twice) to the University of South Alabama's IDD program, where Dr. Crystal got her Ph.D. I couldn't get myself to switch from communication to education theories. Sounds simple enough, but the theories were somewhat different; it meant changing my whole thrust in communication. I opted for a distance learning doctoral program in communication and two years later, received my Ph.D. summa cum laude.
I am grateful I matriculated through these programs, and for one good reason: it has helped me to better understand and appreciate more how people think and conduct themselves. Degrees only identify what someone might be prepared to do; the key, IMO, is how the education one acquires...actually improves one's life in order to benefit others. I am better equipped to write and speak than I would ever have been without that education and to think that at the beginning of it all, way back in about 1963 (after four years in the U.S. Navy where I was recommended to the U.S. Naval Academy), I never thought that I would go to any college, even to acquire an undergrad degree. Frankly I had no desire to go to college and extend my education; I mistakenly thought it was a waste. I was wrong.
No...you do NOT have to go to college to be a better person and to serve others. I don't believe that. But yes, it has helped me more than I could have ever imagined. I believe that God helped me through all of my studies, which didn't always come easy.
Have a great weekend.~jwa
The Five Canons of Rhetoric
Here is some general knowledge of the classical system of rhetoric and its terminology. By the time Cicero wrote his treatises on rhetoric the study of rhetoric was divided in five parts: inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, and ponuntiatio. Let's briefly review each part.
Invention or discovery. Invention was concerned with a system or method for finding arguments. Aristotle pointed out that there are two kinds of arguments or means of persuasion available to a speaker: Non-artistic, such as reasoning from something already established like laws, witnesses, contracts, tortures, and oaths...and artistic modes of persuasion which embody the art of rhetoric: Logos or rational appeal; pathos or emotional appeal; ethos or ethical appeal. In exercising the rational appeal, the speaker appeals to the audience's reason or understanding.
Disposition or arrangement or organization. Here is where you have introduction, thesis, outline, proof, refutation, and conclusion.
Elocution or style is next. This had to do with the use of language, whether it might be a plain style as in teaching, a forcible style as in motivational, and a florid style, used more for charming and entertaining. There's much to be said about style and how its developed.
Memory is the fourth canon of rhetoric, concerned with memorizing a speech, something I don't advise. A few thousand years ago men memorized their speeches through constant practice, much as professional actors do today. Risky at best; deep embarrassment at its worst.
Pronunciation or delivery is the fifth canon of rhetoric. Skill in delivery can be acquired by actual practice and by analyzing the delivery of others. A speaker may have a great speech written out for him but if he fails to deliver it properly, that speech becomes a flop and he is viewed as a flop.
These are the five canons of rhetoric, thanks to philosopher/rhetorician Aristotle (tutor of Alexander the Great, incidentally), the scientifically-minded son of a physician, and Cicero (a Roman), who added to these canons a few hundred years later.
I might add here that rhetoric, technically, is not bombast or sophistry, though modern journalists often misunderstand the original meaning of rhetoric. Now TV journalists misapply rhetoric as bombast, blather, or boondoggling. Instead rhetoric is the art or the studied discipline that deals with the proper and helpful use of service-oriented discourse, either spoken or written, to inform or persuade or motivate an audience, whether that audience is made up of one person or a group of persons (not to their harm but for their good).
The classical rhetoricians seem to have narrowed the particular effect of rhetorical discourse to persuasion. Aristotle defined rhetoric as, "the faculty of discovering all the available means of persuasion in any given situation" (credit to Edward P.J. Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student).
Here's to better communication.~jwa
The human mind is tricky; there's a better way
Thank God that we enjoy the cognitive process. God has given to us the ability to think, reason, analyze, and articulate what we think. What most people don't know is that it allows us the opportunity to learn to think like God does. And He gives us the manual which instructs us as to how God thinks: the Bible.
But the human mind is a tricky thing. Despite all the power that the mind can generate, much of it is random, motivated by runaway emotion. We are a fickle lot, motivated by the external things of life that come to us through five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
We want to belong; we are social creatures. So we try to fit in with others, often without entertaining good critical reasoning. If someone tries to sell you a bill of goods, it's good to question it. We tend to view other people the way we think and feel; this can be dangerous.
God says that the human mind is limited and cannot know the way of God without God revealing His way to us. It is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Yet we go about our lives thinking there's nothing better and what we think and believe is the Sine qua non of life; there can't be anything better. Sad, but true.
The apostle Paul talks about the differences between human mind and God's spiritual mind (1 Corinthians 2). You might want to read through that chapter slowly and carefully. There are other scriptures that show we need God's help in our thinking and that we cannot know how we should direct our own steps (Jer. 10:23).
So should we "check our fleshly-oriented minds at the door" and turn to God's Word, to learn how we can best conduct ourselves and get the most out of life? God highly recommends this (Deuteronomy 30:19). Be very careful that you don't assume that your human mind is not tricky; without proper guidance, we can be lead down the primrose path and busted. Thank God for the cognitive process and His Spirit that also comes with great responsibilities.
Here's to better thoughts and actions.~jwa
But what are they thinking?
I once gave a sermon on prophecy and one nice lady came to me after the service and said she really liked what she had heard about family and children. I was slacked-jawed, though I fought not to show it:).
Upon questioning her as to what she heard, she said that I talked about family and childrearing and it helped her a lot. This is what she walked away with and it remains a good lesson for me, perhaps for you too.
When I speak before any number of people in an audience, I acknowledge that they are listening to me and I truly work to get and retain their interest. I hope to give them something to remember, to help them in their personal lives, and to enhance their spiritual education. Sometimes, however, I find myself thinking, "But what are they thinking?"
If a speaker finds his or her audience staring at him/her in what might appear to be attentiveness, but they don't move their heads or change the looks on their faces, they are probably in another world, thinking about something else, and maybe nearly asleep with their eyes open. Oh yes...it happens.
Early in my speaking career, I was delivering a message in a church in Temple City, California (circa '60s) and as I was about 2/3rds through it, an elderly gentleman in the front row fell out of his seat. No, not because he was so impressed with my speaking or my message. He just fell asleep and fell face down on the floor. Someone helped him up and he sat upright in his chair, as if nothing had happened.
So when you deliver a message and you are one who assumes that if you prepared the message and you liked it, surely everyone else will also like it, please...please think of your audience. They may have come together with a common purpose in mind but their thoughts can be far from one another, let alone be with you, the speaker.
Do not assume that because an audience comes together and they're held "captive" for a couple of hours, they are with you all the way. For them to "get" with you, the speaker, you're going to have to WORK for their attention, remembering that the demographics of every audience is varied in more ways than you can imagine. Try to bring in everyone within your content and delivery; have something for everyone, without losing the focus of your thesis/theme.
May our communication be more effective in the future.~jwa
Form and Substance in Communication
Do you know the difference between form and substance in communication? There's more to it than what I share here, from a personal perspective and from some of my past studies on the subject.
"Form" means what something looks like, its external characteristics, its packaging. "Substance" means what it actually is, what’s inside. When it comes to human behavior, "form" is what we say we say and maybe mean and "substance" is what we do and what we are.
How often have you been in a meeting or simply visiting with a small group of people and you hear someone fill the air with all kinds of seemingly intelligent reasonings, but the longer you hear him or her load the air with trial balloons and especially when you leave the group, you realize something went terribly wrong...not from you, but from one who now appears to have been a big bag of wind?
That's form with little or no substance. On the other hand, you likely have been in the presence of someone who seemed like a straight-shooter, appeared transparent, offered helpful thoughts to the group, and did not shine the light on him or herself. This is substance. You should now the difference and be able to spot it for what it is without any embarrassment or questioning of oneself.
Here's to some good conversations with many people and if you hear a lot of "form" in a conversation, don't be afraid to question it. If you hear a lot of substance from someone, don't hesitate to compliment that person, publicly.
All the best.~jwa
JWAust.com hits are rising because of the Alan Colmes interview on Easter
I am happy to report that visits to JWAust.com over the past two weeks have been phenomenal. Thanks for your visits and I hope you'll return again, often. I also thank Alan Colmes for the opportunity to offer the controversial truths of the Bible. As one man put it years ago, "God's truth will rock and sock your world!" And for those that don't yet know it, regarding what God is preparing to do on this earth, "you ain't seen nothin' yet."
I'm now at 30,000 hits over the past two weeks, which for me is high. Very encouraging.
I hope you'll also visit ucg.org if you desire any magazines, booklets, or other material, free of charge and without any follow-up. We want to serve you.
May God bless you to understand His plan on this earth.~jwa