The other day I had a great conversation with someone I met a few years but with whom I am just recently becoming reacquainted. As we sat there telling stories, I mentioned how I thought context was important for stories because it helps whoever you are talking to understand the whole picture. She agreed and told me that thinking that way meant that I was a painter. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant so she went on to tell me that there seemed to be two types of people: painters and pointers.
I listened as she continued describing the differences between these two types of people and how they both share and process information. Painters enjoy context. They share context and include many details in their stories and in the way that they communicate information. They want to paint a big picture so that their hearer has a richer experience and a fuller understanding of what they are trying to communicate.
Pointers, on the other hand, just like the facts. They’ll give you the bullet point list of the most important information and appreciate the same. They prefer to get straight to the point and to leave out any frivolous details that don’t support the main point of the conversation. She described a pointer that she knew that would be frustrated when she “painted a picture” rather than just providing the points.
It got me thinking about how we communicate. I’ve written about this before because it is something that I think is important. Our ability or inability to communicate has a huge impact on our ability to live together in community. So many of our problems seem to stem from an inability to both hear and be heard. We don’t recognize the differences in the ways people communicate and assume that their preferred method of communication is not only the way that everyone else communicates but also the way they should communicate.
This all leads me to reaffirm the importance of communication. We all need to continually work on making clear communication a priority. This isn’t simply working on our ability to speak clearly or provide a good argument, but also learning how to listen, process, and understand what other people are saying.
I want to add to that the importance of understanding how you communicate and present information versus the ways that other people communicate and present information. Frequently, I believe, our conflicts stems from our expectation that everyone else should communicate like we do. If we’re able to realize that there are differences in communication styles and adapt, both as speakers and as hearers, I think that we could reduce our conflict and we might actually understand what motivates other people to make their decisions and choices.
My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.