Blog Posts

I address candidly the four essential ways that we can reinvigorate our communication in the age of social media: (1) cultivate gratitude in our hearts in order to avoid cynical, critical, impatient discourse, (2) listen empathically and sympathetically with triage for the most important relationships, (3) play together as the context for open, kind, and […]

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Public discourse is particularly unpleasant today. What’s going on? Rather than blame a political party, candidate, system, or ideology, I would like to suggest a new way of looking at our troubling state of affairs. I taught communication at the college level for four decades. In the last fifteen years I noticed a shift among students and across society. I repeatedly observed a […]

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Does God Communicate? Audio

by Quentin Schultze

One of the most enduring questions at least in the history of the western world is whether or not there is a God and, if so, whether God can and does communicate with human beings. In this 30-minute, semi-academic lecture, titled “The God Problem in Communication Studies,” I addressed the issue in the broader context […]

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How to Be a Real Listener

by Quentin Schultze

Listening isn’t easy. Listening is messy. Complicated. Counterintuitive. We can’t become good listeners unless we first acknowledge how difficult it is for each of us personally. Novelist Ernest Hemingway puts it squarely: “Most people never listen.” Do you? Listening is not just hearing. It’s not even just about sound. Listening is attending to reality—to the […]

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7 Signs of Poor Listening

by Quentin Schultze

Seven Signs of Poor Listening 1. Judging others too quickly and harshly 2. Jumping to premature conclusions 3. Responding thoughtlessly 4. Basing opinions of others on first impressions 5. Failing to set aside one’s biases and prejudices 6. Seeing reality solely from one’s own, limited perspective 7. Focusing on self-centered agendas

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6 Ways to Be a Great Communicator

by Quentin Schultze

1. Encourage—build up others 2. Advocate—speak up for others 3. Listen—care about others’ thoughts and feelings 4. Tell Stories—give others joy and delight 5. Forgive—make things right when you’re wrong 6. Challenge—gently ask appropriate questions to help others understand reality

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Our hearts can hold three basic attitudes toward others: displeasure, indifference, and gratitude.  These shape how we communicate with one another, and especially how others perceive us. Displeased communicators tire us with complaints and criticisms. Their hearts say to others, “You don’t live up to my standards” and “I’m better than you are.” We generally […]

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This personal story is both heart wrenching and full of hope. When words fail, actions can speak compassionately. Thanks to the author of this article for writing it and publishing it.

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Why RSVP Is Dying

by Quentin Schultze

I hate to admit it to myself after years of denial, but RSVP is nearly dead. Why? I’ve always been an RSVP fan. I appreciate it when someone invites me to an event and provides a way for me to indicate whether or not I expect to attend. When I get an invitation without an RSVP, I’m […]

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A basic principle of servant communication is that listening is the most important communicative skill. Listening is how we become intimate with reality so that when we speak or write we know what we’re talking about and who we’re talking with. But listening is not easy. I believe it’s the hardest communication skill to learn. […]

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Communicate from Your Heart

by Quentin Schultze

Heart-to-heart communication is the most powerful. Facts and logical arguments have their places in our communication, but they are wooden without the heart of the speaker connecting with the hearts of the audience. We communicate with heart when we touch each other’s basic humanity—the deepest emotions that we all share, such as fear, hope, joy, […]

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Two very basic, recurrent patterns cause most of our communication breakdowns. First, we emotionally cocoon ourselves. We’re not willing to open up. We’re afraid of what others will think—especially someone in authority, such as a boss, parent, or pastor. So we take the safe route of guarding our deeper feelings. In organizations where there is […]

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3 Reasons Not to Ask Questions

by Quentin Schultze

Contrary to common sense, asking questions isn’t always the best way to improve mutual understanding in our communication. Here’s why: #1 When we ask a question we set the agenda. We tell the other person what we want to know about and what he or she should speak about. What if the other person wants […]

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As email and texting are becoming forms of junk mail, handwritten thank-you notes are gaining renewed importance. When I went to a local printer to buy a few hundred personalized note cards, the proprietor told me that he doesn’t get many orders anymore. “People just order a couple dozen online if they need any,” he […]

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I use PowerPoint, but very selectively. My body is more effective. So is yours. Here’s why. The most potent multimedia technology in the world is the human body, including our voices. We’re wondrously multisensory creatures. No humanly devised communication technology can compete with the body. The next time you’re at restaurant just watch and listen […]

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Tweets = New Bumper Snickers

by Quentin Schultze

Every medium has precedents. Social media came out of everything from bedroom sleepovers to water-cooler gab and social shopping. What about Twitter? Post-It notes gone public? Maybe. A better possibility is the bumper sticker. Especially the ones that reflect self-expression rather than just group identity. Especially slightly snarky ones—the bumper snickers. You can buy them […]

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Facebook—The New Front Porch

by Quentin Schultze

Facebook is the new front porch. In the suburbs, mostly unused rear decks have replaced the more neighborly front porches. Along came Facebook for the cyber-suburbs. It’s the new place for gathering, gossiping, and goofing around. It’s become a natural way to find out about friends, relatives, and peers. Used well, Facebook equips us to […]

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Listening as Hospitality

by Quentin Schultze

When we truly listen to others, we provide places in our minds and hearts for them. This is one of the most important forms of hospitality. Only then can we get to know them. Only then can we empathize and sympathize. Only then can we begin to love them as distinct persons. So listening gets […]

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Many communication theories are based on the idea of manipulating people. Just take a look at the titles of communication-related books at your local bookstore.  They’re all about how to get what we want from others. Even about verbally abusing people. The result is that we lose trust in one another. Real communication suffers. We […]

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We can’t communicate well across cultures unless we’re rooted in our own culture. Why? Because we need to know who we are before we can know who we aren’t. How ironic!  Today, we naively assume the opposite, namely, that we have to give up our own cultural roots in order to connect with those form […]

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Kind v. Snarky Tweets

by Quentin Schultze

Who doesn’t enjoy snarky retorts that put deserving folks in their places? They are a mainstay of situation comedies, especially when the stories can’t carry the humor. Snark = snide remark. Twitter has little space for narrative. It’s all about simple, direct expression. Including clever criticism. Lewis Carroll’s fictional “snarks” in his nonsensical poem “The […]

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Sending messages is not the same as communication. Communication requires shared understanding. We live in a storm of mediated messages. Most supposed communication is just noise. Like ads that few people pay attention to. Bruce Springsteen once sung about “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” Little did he know how many channels there would be in […]

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Authors Need Approval

by Quentin Schultze

We writers need approval. Putting our words online or in print opens us up to public criticism. To rejection. So we might want to say what others want to hear in order to gain flattery. Ears get tickled, but truth suffers. Although we’ll still suffer rejection, by speaking the truth kindly, winsomely, we’re more likely […]

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Mutual Communication v. Careerism

by Quentin Schultze

The Protestant Reformer John Calvin used the term “mutual communication” to refer to mutual service rather than selfish careerism.  “It is not enough when a man can say, ‘Oh, I labor, I have my craft,’ or ‘I have such a trade.’  That is not enough.  But we must see whether it is good and profitable […]

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Loving Strangers as Neighbors

by Quentin Schultze

SServant communication is all about loving our audience as our neighbor. It doesn’t make any difference how close we are to our audiences. Even strangers merit our goodness and kindness. Everyone we stumble upon is a special person. If nothing else, each person deserves respect. This means being slow to speak and quick to listen […]

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We can communicate more easily with speech than writing. Our in-person speech carries all kinds of special signals. The tone of our voice alone is powerful. But writing requires a lot of care to communicate well. The reader has little to go other than the silent words. This is why email is so problematic. When […]

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