Communication: Embracing the “Saskatchewan Goodbye”

by Jaela Menssa

Were you surprised by your strengths results? I was. In fact, when I was first given my results and found Communication to be my top strength, I was skeptical. I had an image in my mind of what a top communicator was – an eloquent speaker who used an intellectual vocabulary when speaking. This is never how I would describe myself! I find that I often search for words that I never seem to recall and I feel like I sometimes even struggle to put a sentence together. I jokingly blame it on the fact that I work with young children, most often in an additional language, so my vocabulary is now reduced to their level! The communication strength identifies those with this talent as being good presenters – this is definitely far outside of my comfort zone, yet somehow I often find myself in these situations and need to pull out my “anxiety-reduction strategies”.

The more I learned about the communication strength, however, the more I could see myself in this area. Those who share communication as a strength like to host and visit. My husband and I love to entertain and I thrive on opportunities to gather and share stories with friends and family. I usually always have at least one awkward moment or embarrassing tale to share! I love when content can be livened with a story, whether I am the storyteller or I am listening to someone else’s narrative. As a person with a short attention span, I feel that interests can be peaked with stories, humour and visuals.

As an educator, I rely on my strength for communicating to ensure that my students understand what is presented to them. If I feel that they are not grasping a concept, I will find an alternate way to explain it to them. I am also always willing to listen to my students and colleagues, if they need an open ear. As a colleague, I am conscientious of ensuring that everyone is informed of pertinent details. My co-workers can attest to my lengthy emails, outlining everyone’s responsibilities for an upcoming meeting or class outing. This extends into our family as well, as I am often the one who is extending the invitations or informing others of an upcoming event.

My husband has learned to embrace my socializing habits. I suppose being a communicator explains why when we go out together, I end up lagging 40 feet behind him when walking from one side of a room to the other, stopping several times to visit along the way. He has also learned to wait patiently as I take 20 minutes to say goodbye to someone we just spent the entire evening visiting with. I’ve since learned that this is a Saskatchewan Goodbye, so I’m embracing it!

Communication

The month of May is a celebration of Mary, Holy Mother of God. In the Homily of Pope Francis from the Vatican Basilica on Monday, 1 January 2018, the day we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, Pope Francis reminded us that:

“Devotion to Mary is not spiritual etiquette; it is a requirement of the Christian life. Looking to the Mother, we are asked to leave behind all sorts of useless baggage and to rediscover what really matters. The gift of the Mother, the gift of every mother and every woman, is most precious for the Church, for she too is mother and woman. While a man often abstracts, affirms and imposes ideas, a woman, a mother, knows how to “keep”, to put things together in her heart, to give life. If our faith is not to be reduced merely to an idea or a doctrine, all of us need a mother’s heart, one which knows how to keep the tender love of God and to feel the heartbeat of all around us. May the Mother, God’s finest human creation, guard and keep this year, and bring the peace of her Son to our hearts and to our world.”

Source: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2018/documents/papa-francesco_20180101_omelia-giornata-mondiale-pace.html, July 13, 2018, July 13, 2018


As we consider the communication strength we can look to these words to help us understand how communication is used for influence. The language used in this section of the homily brings to life how our heartbeat keeps the tender love of God all around us. By bringing to mind the image of a precious quiet mother, Pope Francis is able to instill peace within us. Naturally, he can evoke this because of his strong faith, but it is also the art of communication. The communicator uses language to describe, explain, entertain, and energize. Storytelling, public speaking, and presenting brings the communicator to life. They love to pique interest and inspire others. Jesus likely had communication among his top strengths. Communicators are often cooperative, interactive, educational, and likable since they are easy to talk with. Their power of words can help students to understand abstract ideas, bring meaning to concepts and procedures, and add value to policy and guidelines. The communicator can sell a glass of water to a drowning man.

In the classroom, these teachers are at ease. They have an easy natural way of interacting with students and colleagues. Students often like listening to these teachers so much that they don’t realize how much they are actually learning. Student communicators are talkative. They could have the reputation of being a blabbermouth or show-off. They might be thought of as self-absorbed, needing attention, or as a poor listener. Communicators will benefit from learning active and empathetic listening strategies, how to interject politely and respectfully, and how to read their audience in order to choose the right words. Because they are natural entertainers, communicators will be among us to share the joy of our faith during the Marion month and throughout the year.

How to be a hoper, in the midst of mopers!

by Father Eduardo Samaniego, S.J.

Reprinted with Permission

Have you ever been around people who always talk about the past as if it were golden in comparison to now? They tend to whine or mope around wishing it were the past. They lack joy, they sow seeds of negativity and they tend to make those around them miserable.

Now Future-seekers don’t mind living in the moment as long as they see a possibility of a better future. Thy help us anticipate the future with joy. They sow seeds of positivity and they make those around them hopeful. So, which are we: people who look back or look ahead?

The author of Habits of the Heart would say the difference lies in having or not having a defined Mission. We heard Christ’s today, and his disciples changed the world living it out. If we don’t have a personal Mission Statement, then we must ask ourselves, “How do we want to be remembered when we die? What difference do we want to have made for having lived?” By answering these questions, we can then come up with a personal Mission Statement which will motivate us to live as heroes or a she-roes in the world.

We all need to learn that the past is to learn from. Applying St. Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation, which states that to the extent all that is created around us helps us come into communion with God, we keep it and use it. To the extent all this leads us away from God, we leave it behind. So, the past is to learn from. What in the past makes us happy and leads us to God? Take that and keep it in the now, in the present. What led us away from God? Never embrace it again!

What’s the best future imaginable? Take the steps that lead us to that end. If we want to make a difference for having lived, learn from the past and imagine the future we seek, and then, put the best of these into our present moments. True Christians make a difference by knowing who they are, whose they are, and for whom they are here to serve.

True-Catholic Christians don’t mope or whine. They are positive and hopeful. False-Catholics mope and whine and are always negative. They don’t live as if they belong to Christ and are called to serve all God’s children. True-Catholics live joyfully in the present, having learned from the past, and joyfully anticipate an even better future. A false-Catholic lives out the adage that misery loves company.

Jesus shared his Mission Statement, which was the same one that his hero, Isaiah, had: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he anointed me to bring Good News to the poor, to free the captives, return sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed and declare the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Is 61 & Luke 4) Mine is: “He made a difference.” What is yours?

Robert Bellah says that we can change the world if we but get 2% of the population to buy into a new direction. I’ve been blessed to have worked in 2 parishes that bought into their revised Mission Statements and thus, made a difference to their growing parishes and their local communities, which in turn, got the communities to look at their way of proceeding and make the changes needed to provide for their people.

Jesus told his people that the words of Isaiah were being fulfilled in their hearing. There could be no greater news than that, for that meant that the Messiah was among them. We all know that they would eventually run him out of town, but for us, who have benefited from passing on to the disciples his truth, we know better and are called to live out our own personal anointing for the good of all on this earth.

Jesus revealed the glory of the Lord and it is ours to choose to be people who mope or to hope. Do we have faith, or do we have simply a set of beliefs? Faith, like Communion, is a noun AND a verb. We were anointed to hew hope from despair, to harmonize using the various gifts and voices Paul speaks about in the Body of Christ. May we commune with God and leave here as apostles sent to sow seeds of hope.

About Fr. Eddie: Eduardo Samaniego, S.J. is an Associate Director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, California. Beginning in Summer 2019, he will be the Director of the Diaconate for the Diocese of San Bernadino and San Diego. Fr. Eddie publishes homilies for Sundays and major liturgical celebrations on his website, If You Preach It, They Will Come.