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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: Monday, September 26, 2005 - כ"ב אלול, תשס"ה
 
 
True Communication
Part One                    Click here to read Part Two

Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author
 

The 奏ypical person' says about 20,000 words each day - depending on their family structure, job and personality - which averages to 3,000- 5,000 statements a day. A statement can be as short as saying Go!, a few sentences spoken together or one sentence including many statements. According to an article I read, 10% of these statements are lies. The article intrigued me.  Ten percent of our statements each day are lies? What does the 疎verage' person lie about? 

Well, when we meet someone we dislike, we say 前h! How nice to see you.' When someone asks us for information that we are too lazy to get, we say 選 don't have it'. We constantly tell lies, like 塑ou look like you lost weight', 禅hat was a great idea', 選 was just going to call you', 選 don't have time', 塑ou're so smart', 選 got lost', 選 forgot', 選'm so happy for you', 選t was an excellent price' and 選'm having a great day'. When someone tells us an idea we say, 選'll take it under advisement'. When late we say, 選t took me more than ス hour to find a parking space'. 

Are these daily statements, which many people make, truly lies? Many of these comments are subjective comments, comments which can be true under the right circumstances, with the right intentions and are said to facilitate communication. In fact, because such comments are usually said with the intention of making or keeping peace, they are communication tools and not necessarily lies. 

Subjective comments can be translated in various ways that would also make them the truth. 

Subjective comments can reflect the perception of the person making it. We see a situation a certain way because of our own personal slant. If I like black clothing and others do not, my complimenting a black suit is because of my perception of that color  clothing regardless of what others think. Also, there are times subjective comments reflect our mood. I may like black clothing today, but not tomorrow. That does not belie the truth of my positive comment yesterday.  

There are times that subjective comments can inspire someone else so that they make it the truth. When my father, obm, was asked for a reference he would fulfill the request. My father recognized the potential in everyone and sought to stress and strengthen what he saw as the truth. He was also realistic enough to know that not everyone saw the same goodness he saw, even the receiver of the recommendation itself, therefore as he handed over the reference he would  say, "Read it and go out and make it true." In this way he inspired the person to strive for more and make his positive perception of them the truth. 

Subjective statements that are lies can at times become the truth. Just by saying a comment we can inspire ourselves to make it the truth. Even if I don't feel sorry, when I make an apology, just by making the statement I may start to actually feel it. The statement opens a certain quality within me which can help make the statement true. 

Subjective comments can be translated many different ways and are used to enhance communication and keep the peace, and even help us grow. But when we cross the line and lie about things that are black and white provable facts then it can harm our communication and our relationships. 

Two people - any two people, be it spouses, parent and child, or two friends -  can't have meaningful communication that is burdened with constant lying. If someone gets an item repaired for $200- and tells their spouse it was $100- it's an outright lie. Lying about the price of a product - or anything that can be proven - can come back and haunt you and hurt your communication. Yet if someone pays $200- for a repair and when asked says it was cheap - that is a subjective comment. When someone says a repair was cheap that is not a lie, because that is a matter of perception and he thought it was cheap. How should he know how much it costs for tires/refrigerator/sink to be fixed? To him the repair seemed cheap. 

And such is the difference between a subjective and objective statement. One is perception and one can be proven to be a lie. One is a communication maker and one is a communication breaker. One can be used and one shouldn't be used - ever.

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht

 

 
     
 
 
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