My friend Jackie Melvin has started a podcast called Be the Third on the very important subject of communication. Some of her topics include “Everyone Has the Right to Be Heard” and “Blurters and Fools.” I won’t say which one I am, but these talks made me consider the different ways we communicate in different cultures.

We usually think of culture as having to do with different countries, but there are also different cultures within our own country, our workspace, our churches, and our neighborhoods to name a few. But I really want to talk about the Hispanic cultures I have been involved with, and I say Hispanic cultures plural because each country and each region has different cultural norms too. If you are one of my readers from the South, I’m sure you don’t really like being referred to by Europeans as Yankees. As my late mama would say, “Horrors!” The same is true for our Hispanic friends.

When I first began to get involved in missions, I was very frustrated that I could not accomplish as much in a day as I had hoped. I wanted to solve all the problems in an efficient manner. But when I made home visits, I couldn’t just fill out my data sheet. I had to have a cup of coffee first. Or, if I called a client, I had to go through the niceties of answering questions about my family and vice versa. Being raised in the South I should have been more used to this custom, but I was a go-getter who needed to get things done. The Hispanic community helped me realize that the relationship was more important than the checklist.

Texting and messaging was a new thing back in the day, and not efficient at all when you had to press each key several times to get to the letter you wanted. But all this communication evolved rather quickly, and unfortunately, snippy conversations with many abbreviations has become the norm. Not so, in the Hispanic community.

My husband has finally realized that I cannot find out something from my Hispanic friends in the first line of text. He knows I have to have a formal greeting of Buenos días and ¿Cómo estás? and a chat about the weather before I can ask the main question.

Another beautiful phrase when making plans is Primero Dios, which is similar to “God willing.” This saying, direct from the Bible, is another cause to pause, to remember that I am not in charge, that God may have other plans.

This type of chit-chat makes me slow down and focus. In our hyperactive world, this form of communication is a good thing. Try it next time on a friend. Take a deep breath and just text a Good Morning. Of course they’ll probably think you’ve been hacked, but a slow convo is good for the soul. Give it a try. I recommend it.

Adding a Dios le bendiga or God bless you never hurt anyone either.

And our prayer time could be improved with this idea as well. The relationship is more important than the prayer list.

Catch Be the Third on Google podcasts, the Stitcher app, or anywhere you listen.

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