Abraham Maslow, humanistic psychologist famous for his Hierarchy of Needs diagram, apparently said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” I saw this quote used as a Facebook status today and it struck a chord with me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. This whole communication thing. I hope I have more than a hammer in my communication toolbox.

Communication. It is simple and basic and yet so darned complex. The reciprocal sharing of thoughts and ideas. Why is this the number one difficulty in relationships?

I guess it is because relationships are, at their core, about relating. Good relating is key to good relationship-ing.Whether in a marriage, a company, or a church … relating is the whole point. Otherwise, why bother?

But we mess it up. Because of The Fall, and all. That original relationship, between God and His creation, was perfect. Everything Adam and Eve needed to feel good about themselves (to be self-actualized, as Maslow would say) was found in their relationships with God. They were completed by Him. And then they weren’t.

It was no longer perfect. God couldn’t have the same relationship with His people anymore. And ever since, we’ve been struggling to find that completeness, that fulfillment, in our relationships with others. And doing a rather poor job of it.

True, Jesus is perfect for us. His sacrifice allows us to reenter that relationship with God, but it won’t be perfect again until Heaven. And so we continue, I continue, to try to validate myself through my relationships. Which means, communication is typically about me. My point. My ideas. My brilliant plans. My attempts to seem like a good person. That doesn’t mean communicating is never productive or positive or … good. But it is and always will be a struggle. Good communication with be a challenge. I will have difficulty making myself known, and you will have difficulty hearing and understanding my attempts to do that.

But hey, knowing the problem exists goes a long way toward overcoming it. Just acknowledging that communication is hard, really hard, and that we all have difficulty with it, helps. It puts me in a frame of mind that is more receptive to my communication partner. My ears open wider. My heart is more sensitive. I care more about what the other guy is saying. I’m less likely to become defensive or judgemental. Cool.

So … goal for the day. Be a better communicator by acknowledging how easy it is to be a poor one. Listen more. Talk less. Care.