Monday, June 16, 2014


Bob:  "Did you know that whales can communicate with each other for distances of over 1000 miles?"

Fred:  "No, I didn't know that. How fascinating! What do the whales say to one another when they're 1000 miles apart?"

Bob:  "Scientists are not sure, but they think the whales are saying, 'CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?'"

I heard that joke many years ago, so I probably have a few of the details wrong. However, I did a little poking around on the internet this morning and found out that:

Scientists believe that before the noise and water pollution levels we have today, whales could actually communicate with one another from opposite sides of the globe. Even today, the loud, low-frequency sounds produced by fin whales may travel as far as 4000 miles, depending on water conditions. What are the whales saying? No one is certain, but the recordings of whale songs are fascinating to listen to!

I honestly do not know very much about whales or whale communication, and you've probably already guessed that is not what I'm really writing about. But maybe the whales could help me out with a problem...

I meet regularly with a small group of people who have been assigned the task of working together on a common assignment. A few months ago, I described to the group an issue I saw developing that I thought would impede our ability to work effectively on this project. The others agreed that, Yes, this was definitely something the group needed to be aware of and to address - and that was that. The group moved on to the next item of business.

So I brought up my concerns again the next time we met. "Yes, yes, this is something we all need to think about," everyone agreed - and so it was decided that everyone in our group should take some time to think about the issue and possible solutions. Perhaps we should plan to spend more time addressing the problem at our next meeting. And that was that.

And so I brought the subject up again at our next meeting. And again, everyone agreed that this was a matter of serious import, requiring much thought and consideration, and that we should probably be considering ways to address the problem. And then they moved on to the next item of business.

I was beginning to feel disheartened - I really didn't think anyone understood the seriousness of the situation, and no one seemed committed to hammering out a solution. Knowing that I am not a very emotive person and that I often do not communicate my feelings and concerns very passionately, I interrupted with a fervent, "I don't think you understand how serious this situation is!"

And everyone listened to my not-very-emotional-but-pretty-danged-emotional-for-me plea, and they nodded and agreed and decided that we should talk about this at our next meeting.

I feel like a whale out of water.

I feel like I am booming out a message that no one is hearing.

And I have no clue how to get through, no idea what else to do in order to communicate effectively.

Maybe if I brought a recording of whale songs to our next meeting and played it with the volume turned up really loudly...

Maybe if I asked, "Can you hear me now?!"


troal said...

You have described yourself as "passive-aggressive." How about you drop the "passive" and go with the "aggressive?" Not that you should be mean or overbearing. But, within the context of the meeting, make eye contact with the circle, one-by-one. Speak their name and ask "What do you think we should do?" Warn them beforehand, if you like, that you're about to put them on the spot. Work your way around the group again, asking "What would you be able to do to help us work this out?" Not a surefire method, I know, but one which puts the issue squarely on the table and the ball in the court of your listeners, and if done in a loving manner (as only you can do), engages your group in participation. Let me know how you do.

Camille said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Troal. I think being firm, direct, and persistent - along with being respectful and gracious - will go a long way toward helping to work through the issue at hand. I don't especially like these "exercises" God is giving me, but they do seem to be making me stronger!