What type of communicator are you?

I recently noticed a friend posting on Facebook about having their typewriter returned after being cleaned and tuned up. I immediately remembered typing lessons in high school when we’d all be sat in front of a typewriter and expected to type in time to the music. That’s if you could really call it music. (Yep, I’m really that old.)

I knew then and there I’d never be a touch typist belting out a hundred words per minute.

Thinking about those days got me wondering about the differences between the trusty typewriter of old and the computers we all use today to communicate.

Have you ever made a mistake while using a manual typewriter?

Once you press your finger down on a key the corresponding typebar flies out of the typebasket towards your piece of paper, connecting with the inked ribbon on the way, to leave a lasting mark on the page. It not only marks the paper with ink, it leaves a permanent impression. The harder you strike the key, the deeper the impact.

There’s no effective ‘backspace’ key on a typewriter if you make a mistake. Even newer typewriters that had erasers could only remove the ink. The indent in the paper remained. Of course you could cover it up with some kind of correction fluid or tape, but even that left a tell tale sign that something wasn’t quite right.

Using a computer keyboard when communicating it becomes all too easy to rush ahead with fingers flying, knowing that we can select whole sections of what we create and then with the press of a button, it’s all gone without a trace. If we want to add an extra word in the middle of the text, we simply drop the cursor where we need it and add whatever we want. It was never that way with a typewriter.

When we combine the ease of throwing some words together with the instant nature of social media, it’s no surprise that careless words find their way into the hearts of those on the receiving end of our communication. A thoughtless comment on social media or a hasty text message can leave a deeper impact on a person than an old typewriter would leave on a page and one that won’t disappear with a bottle of correction fluid.

Typing with a typewriter was a lot more intentional.

With a typewriter you had to structure what you wanted to say before you began striking the keys. You couldn’t just throw some ideas down and then move them around the page.

I don’t want to go back to using a typewriter and lose all the extra functionality that computers afford us, but I do wonder if we’ve lost some of the intentional thought processes we needed in days past.

With a typewriter you feel, see and hear every key stroke yourself before it’s felt, seen and heard by anyone else. Unless you want to waste a lot of paper, you think through what you’re about to communicate when you use a typewriter.

The good news is that we don’t have to go back to using typewriters to communicate well. We can take advantage of everything that newer technology offers while still taking time to think through what we’re trying to say, keeping in mind our intent and the way it will be received. We don’t have to be careless with words. We can choose to consider our communication.

I think there is still great beauty in a classic typewriter but I won’t be rushing to start using one again. I think there’s even greater beauty in continuing to be a thoughtful communicator.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. – Proverbs 16:24

What kind of communicator are you?

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Riding a Mongoose

mongoose

I was listening to a podcast on the way to work this morning and the guy speaking was referencing a man crossing America, riding a mongoose. He went on to say that the man was obese and that this was part of his way of winning back his wife.

It sounded a bit odd. I wasn’t sure what a mongoose looked like but it would have to be a very large animal and I was sure that wasn’t the case. I couldn’t type ‘mongoose’ into my phone so I asked Siri to find me some photos of a mongoose. I glanced at the photos and when I saw the little animals I was perplexed. Something wasn’t right.

Once I got to work I decided to investigate further.

Of course you’re already way ahead of me. He was speaking about Mongoose as a brand of mountain bike. This very large man is towing a trailer behind his bike as he makes his way from one coast to the other.

If you want to find out more about the guy riding a Mongoose across the U.S. you can head to his website, Fat Guy Across America.

I blame the Proclaimers I really do. I will be riding a bicycle from east coast to west coast for a few reasons, 1. to prove things to my wife and my love. 2. to take back my health and to lose the pounds I have collected over the years. As of right now, I’m 560 pounds. I will be blogging and video blogging the whole trip and interviewing people along the way. After I complete my trip I will write a book on the experience. This fundraiser to help with supplies and equipment and any costs for camping, eating, etc. I’ll need all the support I can get.

By completing this ride, I hope to encourage others to get up and get moving no matter their weight. I have a lot to prove and a lot to make happen. I want to write this book to inspire others and inspire myself and show the love of my life, I still got it. There are a lot of naysayers out there and I am going to prove them wrong.

It’s funny how often we can miss what’s really going on because we’re simply not on the same page as someone else. It’s not until something doesn’t quite fit that we stop and reassess what someone is saying. If the brand of bike mentioned was something like ‘Horse’ or ‘Camel’ I wouldn’t have even questioned what was said and I would have had a completely different picture in my mind of what was happening.

We can’t spend our whole lives over-analysing everything others say but it sometimes helps to make sure that what we’re hearing is what the other person is actually saying. Likewise, we need to be clear in the way we communicate and never just take it for granted that the people we’re addressing are understanding our intent.

Have you ever found yourself being misinterpreted? Have you found yourself jumping to a wrong conclusion when someone else is speaking?

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