The gospel singer Mavis Staples was 13 and prancing around the stage, imitating the group that performed before her and not being herself. Her father pulled her aside and said “Mavis, you be sincere. What comes from the heart reaches the heart.” Mavis never forgot those words.
Pops Staples was right. There is no more powerful way to communicate than speaking from the heart. It doesn’t matter if the context is a difficult work conversation, a discussion with a family member, or an email to a friend. Listening to our hearts is the first step in good communication.
“Deep calls to deep” wrote the Psalmist. “What is most personal is most universal” said Henri Nouwen. If you are looking for an effective communication strategy, it seems like this is it. Take the time to listen to your heart, and then speak from that deep place. Coming from the heart is no guarantee that what we say will be received well. Communication is a complex thing with land mines all over the place. But it is easier to let go of another’s response if we have taken the time to listen to our own heart before speaking.
Mavis was so grief stricken when her father died, she stopped singing. Now she has started again, and is clearly singing from her heart. Listen to her new song “You are Not Alone” (written by Jeff Tweedy from the band Wilco). It spoke to my heart. Does it speak to yours?
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