Transmit only

Two way radios enable users to both receive and transmit messages. Participants in conversations should function like two way radios, but are sometimes simply waiting their turn to talk. They are set on “transmit only”, rather than receive and transmit.

I recently completed a flight where the woman next to me communicated in the transmit only mode. She was dressed as a stewardess and, when I sat down, had a number of things she needed me to know (in this order).

1. She was going to her yearly training.

2. She didn’t normally sit in coach (“these seats are so small… how do you sit in them?”).

3. She had been up all night studying, but had three Red Bulls on her person (yes, three… three!).

Initially, I attempted to engage in the conversation, but when it became clear that this was a one-sided discussion I simply listened. I wasn’t troubled by it; I learned some things about airline training. It is not my intent to indict this woman. I am as guilty as the next when it comes to waiting my turn to talk (I’m a professor after all!).

What occurred to me, however, is that the only reward we get from this mode of communication is the chance to share our intriguing tidbit of information or compelling anecdote (at least in our own eyes). We miss out on true fellowship. We do not share life; we only celebrate ourselves.

This situation reminds me of what Jesus taught about our prayer habits, and “religious” behavior in general, in Matthew 6:5-6 (NIV).

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Take the time to truly engage others when you speak with them. Actively listen to learn their story and I’m sure the Holy Spirit will provide rich opportunities for you to share the good news of Jesus through your story. Receive and transmit.

About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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