The Communication Marathon: The Big Finish


I think it was around the eighth mile of my marathon that a man started jogging along side me and asked me if I liked my shoes.  I told him that I did, and he told me that he thought his were too small.  He had bought them the day before the marathon and they weren’t broken in yet.  I told him that I had been advised to train in my shoes for at least a month.  He thought that was pretty good advice.

He then asked me how many miles I had trained.  I told him that I spent six months building up from two miles to 20.  The week before I had completed one 20 and two 16 mile sessions.  He said that was a good idea, too.  His longest run prior to the marathon was six miles.

When communicating, have you ever felt that you were coming up short?  You know, that feeling that you should have learned more or practiced more?  It can be painful (and not just for you, but for the other participants as well).  So, how does one train for communication?

The communication marathon requires dedicated listening.

The way we train for communication is by listening.  First, of course, we should be listening to God.  Through Scripture, and through prayer and solitude, we are learning what to say by learning what God is saying.  Second, we should be listening to other people.  Listen in conversation and in brainstorming; listen to sermons and lectures (TEDtalks are great – here’s one).  The third way to listen is by reading.  It’s important that communicators read.  (What comes out of you reflects what goes into you.)  

As a doctoral student, I have been reading about organizational leadership for two solid years.  I am training for comprehensive exams in November, and for my dissertation after that.  I am prepared to communicate about organizational leadership because I’ve been running in organizational leadership shoes and practicing organizational leadership concepts.  I’ve listened to lectures and had conversations.  I know what other people think about it, which has helped me form what I think about it, and I can articulate and debate it.  

That’s my training, but I’d love to know about yours.  What are you doing to communicate in your context?  What are you watching and what are you reading?