Are We Speaking the Same Language?

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“Nana, sit down! You play with me?”

When a three-year-old asks you to join the Anna, Elsa, and Olaf plush community, can anyone refuse?

If you’re sick of Frozen, “Let it go!” Kids are still captivated by the music and funny antics of one loveable, sun-seeking snowman, Olaf.

I stood and listened to Audrey’s toddler vocabulary, it was choppy (no grammar awards), but she communicated well, “Nana, sit down!”

Audrey brought the “frozen” sisters to life with dialogue and song. Olaf joined them until his Velcro-attached head rolled off. A paralyzing shriek came from a wide-eyed tot that prompted an immediate intervention.

“He’s okay,” I reassured her. As I repositioned Olaf’s decapitated head (that still had a stupid grin on his face), I explained, “See, all better.”

Now, I was speaking choppy talk, but she understood. Olaf was ready to rejoin the fun.



The gift of speech is first and foremost communication. With that said, what is communication? Ideally, it’s a connection, a message, or an exchange of information. We understand the concept, but our daily experiences from both perspectives can differ. On the receiving end, we can recognize a monologue dump. The last thing we want to hear is someone’s self-focused discourse. Believe me, I’ve done that. It’s not effective—trust me.

As parents or grandparents, we know communication can deliver Teflon words or Velcro words. They slip away or adhere.

We want our communication understood whether we’re talking to a three-year-old, corporate executives, or small groups. We don’t want the person on the receiving end to think, we ain’t speaking the same language. That’s Teflon words.



Do you remember the Verizon guy that began his “Can you hear me now?” career in 2001? His name is Paul Marcarelli, and although those commercials are long gone, the catchphrase lingers. They became Velcro words.

When we speak, we want to be heard and our words remembered—especially when we’re sharing our faith. After all, we’re talking about someone’s spiritual health and future. The stakes are high. We want our words to adhere like Velcro. So how do we do this?



When we speak, it’s not about what we’re going to say, but rather what others are going to hear. Your motives and your delivery matter.

Are they going to hear how smart or successful you are? Are they going to hear a lecture? Are they going to hear disapproval or judgment?

In my opinion, the irony of effective speaking is to learn effective listening. My past communication failures have taught me that I have to listen to God first and then listen to others. When I shift my focus to God and others, God can accomplish His purpose, and the message is memorable.



Audrey listens to everything I have to say—well almost everything. Why? She knows I love her. As Olaf would say, “Some people are worth melting for.”

I try to understand her world. I notice her desires, behaviors, and frustrations. At times, I model her world so we can speak the same language. Other times, she models mine. (I guess she loves me, too.) She tries to understand my world and imitates my behaviors. As a result, we communicate by melting for one another.

When we have a “…people are worth melting for” attitude, we listen. Our genuine interest is the prequel that conveys, I can hear you now, and I care. It changes how we shape and deliver our words. We end up with less Teflon words and more Velcro words.



As Christians, we want to deliver a message of encouragement to those around us. We want to plant seeds, become a real influence, and build others up. You can! God has given us the gift of speech for a reason.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. ‎“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 New American Standard Bible

Remember, it’s not about what we’re going to say, but rather what others are going to hear. Let them hear how much you care. Listen, communicate, and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s our commission.


Marisa Shadrick

© Lightstock



Merriam-Webster. Accessed January 21, 2016.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

“Olaf/Quotes.” Disney Wiki. Accessed January 21, 2016.

Wei, Will. “Here’s What The ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ Guy Is Doing Today.” Business Insider. November 13, 2014. Accessed January 21, 2016.

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