Expectation of Communication

In all your daily communications what expectations and realisations do you experience?
It can be argued that the normal experience for most of us is miscommunication!
So the ‘Mission Impossible/Possible’ for 2017 is to improve our levels of communication.


A simple definition of communication is the sending and receiving of a message between two parties.                       Sent ……………………… Message ………………………… Received

Megginson says that “communication is the process of transmitting meaning, ideas and understanding of a person or a group to another person or group.” So it’s a two way transaction that seeks a mutual understanding. It can involve a shared ‘encoding’ and ‘decoding’ of information which may include humans and non-humans.

There are different forms of communication:

1   Verbal and nonverbal language.

2   Written form: that comprises of words, ideas, faith, alongside opinions, values, thoughts and feelings.

3   Non-linguistic: that shows itself in the function of traffic lights and road signs,  telegraphic and electronic media, as well as secret and open codes.

Basically communication ‘Connects or Disconnects’ people and groups depending on the subject matter and acts as a very important bridge of meaning.

A new law named the “right to disconnect” came into force in France from the 1 January 2017. French employees are being offered the legal right to disconnect from work emails outside the regular working week of 35 hours, so looking to establish a healthy work/life balance. In an increasing global work place the reality of being able to ‘disconnect’ at a certain time may seem a ‘Mission Impossible.’

Hugh Scofield (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36249647 BBC 11 May 2016) comments that “all the studies show that there is far more work related stress today than there used to be and such stress is constant.”

One French MP is quoted as saying “you’re at home but you’re not at home.” We leave our physical place of work but often remain attached by a kind of electronic leash. Texts, messages and emails colonise the life of the individual.


There is then a real threat of employees experiencing physical, psychological and emotional burnout caused by an inability to ‘disconnect.’

The Greeks have two words for time:

Chronos (Chronology: a regular, sequential time with ‘Father Time’ it’s personification)

Kairos (Unconscious, creative, seasonal time which is essential for productive thinking)

A good employer will want to protect the Kairos time for their workers so as to avoid ‘communication overload.’ Such an effort to protect ‘workers private time’ is excellent. However, it may be questioned as to how realistically it can work out in practise?

Alongside government legislation, it is important for individuals to build up for themselves some form of ‘self-Kairos’ time. Such a season will ensure quality rest and creative thinking and maintain a good level of productivity at work, home and socially.

An interesting example of communication can be found in the story of Moses and the burning bush found in the Old Testament Exodus 3. Moses was out working as a Shepherd for his father in law Jethro.

In an ordinary life experience he encountered a Divine presence in the form of a continual flame that did not consume the physical bush that was nearby.


The Lord communicated to Moses that he had a different work for him which was shepherding people rather than sheep and a dialogue ensued. How was Moses to interpret such a communication as it was so different to the ordinary experiences of life? Moses accepted the ‘Mission Impossible’ given to him which changed his own life and those he went on to lead.

Stories from the past shared around an open or house fire was one of the main vehicles of oral communication with memory and understanding vital.


From such traditions we have a written record of history as understood from different viewpoints. This begs the question as to whether with all the advances in modern communication, we have improved or gone backwards in all areas of communication?

For a moment think of a situation that is challenging your capacity to send a particular message and to be confident that is has been received and understood?

From 1 – 10, what mark would you give for personal competency levels in your daily communications? (10 being the highest mark) ………………………………

How can you quantify that mark from a wider point of view? Is it possible to seek objective feedback to balance that mark? In what ways can you improve your skill level in all areas of communication?

There will be courses to attend that help to improve our listening skills? There are techniques that can enhance both verbal and visual communication. It is important to think about and work on the timing of communication which greatly affects a desired result.


Be kind to yourself. A good level of communication is when we feel comfortable enough to say things as they are, without too much coding, so that there is little requirement for decoding!

Where we may lack self-confidence and belief we can rest in being ourselves, which in turn will help our self-belief and confidence. It can empower us to respond in more positive tones to the messages and communications that we share to individuals and groups and so freeing us to ‘Connect and Disconnect’ where required.

So what expectations do you have from others in 2017?
Are you ready for the unexpected?
Are you communicating in the best way possible and pleased with the outcomes?

With Great Expectations Graham

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Lots of change has taken place in the UK during 2016, with the Brexit result one of the most surprising. However, many of our friends worldwide have also witnessed various changes including the Presidential election in America.

Seasons and situations change and transformation takes place in a natural and progressive way as well as in more violet and disturbing tones.

In defining Transformation we may say it is something that incurs a change: in form, nature or appearance! The caption below reminds us of the transforming power of superman, whilst not forgetting superwoman!


Other aspects of Transformation may include a process of: Conversion For example when we travel abroad we have to convert our precious Pounds into Euros, Dollars or another currency.

Following the UK referendum result there will be many Amendments that have to be worked out to accommodate the Brexit process in the realm of political debate, UK and European law.

The clocks have moved back an hour and the season of Autumn is fully underway which will bring its own changes. Millions of leaves fall to the ground which allows the earthworms to transform them into our precious soil and many creatures look to hibernate ready for the onslaught of Winter.

In the centre of Manchester, just after the Christmas lights have been switched on, we witness a flurry of activity as the various squares and public spaces are transformed into one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe.


The market has become very successful over recent years as a result of lots of hard work, a collective desire to make it adventurous, and offer those who attend a sense of Festive cheer and beauty.

For a moment may we consider three aspects of any Transformational process?

The Task. The Adventure and The Beauty.

The Task

Think about that Challenging Task that you have to work in and through today?

It could be a Physical problem that is affecting you and you wonder how you’re going to cope in such a situation.

Relationships in the family, at work and socially are stressful and it all seems to be getting out of hand?

Personal Finances have become strained and we wonder how we are going to make ends meet during this next few months?

Our Housing situation has changed and it is throwing up numerous issues that require urgent attention and it all feels quite scary.

You have heard it said: ’don’t bring me problems, bring me the solutions.’ The difficulty is that when we are feeling overwhelmed we can easily give up hope and solutions evade us. In such situations it is always good to talk with those who are close to us and gain some profession advice and support.

The Adventure

We have just entered Advent which focuses our attention on the true meaning of Christmas. In these times of change it’s important not to forget that as well as sensing fear and dread it can also represent an opportunity for Adventure, a new start and fresh opportunities.

This in many ways represents the mood in the UK between those who wanted to Remain in Europe and those who voted to Leave, Fear and Opportunity abound!

For a moment outline some things that you are personally involved in and assess whether they represent a chore or delight? Such activities may bring us a roller coaster experience full of ups and downs. Yet each day is a gift for us to grasp hold of and take part in.

The Beauty

I just love the whole thought of how beauty can emerge out of ashes and rubble. There are many examples where individuals work on different types of plans and projects.

In the UK the TV programme Grand Designs records many people working hard on an adventure to produce a building that is transformed from one form of structure into something that, in the eye of the beholder and the financial provider, has become a thing of Beauty.


I’m sure there are areas in your life that have been regenerated due to following certain ideas and models.

However, there are plenty of models that squeeze us into lifestyles that may not be beneficial and do not give us the Happiness and Strength we desire.

In Albert’s Square in Manchester we see Father Christmas positioned on the town hall which represents the fun and commercial side of Christmas.


Alternatively the Nativity scene at St Anne’s square, just around the corner from Albert’s square, reminds us of the baby in the crib who is still influencing and transforming individuals and nations today offering an alternative model and mould of living?


So life is about Seasons and Transformations. Try and recognise the Season you are in and the Transformations you are going through and confidently take those baby steps to become your own Superman or Superwomen into the forthcoming New Year 2017.


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Out of Reach! Within our Grasp!

In the UK during the month of August the GCSE and A level exam results are published. Many pupils would have got expected or unexpected grades to enable them to move forward in their educational planning. Others will have to retake their exams to get a higher grade.


When we are training and preparing for a specific result we may often feel that it is ‘Out of our Reach.’ At times we feel over whelmed, it’s not possible, we have had enough and want to quit.

However, that which seems ‘Out of our Reach’ is often ‘Within our Grasp’ as we knuckle down and apply extra effort to achieve that given goal. Those who have done well in their exams will be quick to thank their parents, friends and teachers who have helped them. When we have failed certain tests we may be quick to blame others for our failure and that we were not good enough to pass the exam in the first place!

Thinking – At this present time what do you think is definitely Out of your Reach?

Feeling – How would you summarize your feelings? One of confidence or one of failure?

Acting – Does your actions follow your directed thinking, or does your feelings dictate your actions?

During the summer many people plan to climb a hilltop or meander through wooded forests and beautiful valleys enjoying the warmer weather. At Fort William in Scotland there is Ben Nevis (Gaelic for ‘Mountain of Heaven’) which is the highest mountain in the British Isles at over 4000 feet. In looking up to the summit one can definitely think and feel that any actions to ascend the top would be impossible!

Ben Nevis

The main way to tackle Ben Nevis for the novice is via The Mountain Track also known as the Pony Trail or Tourist Path.

There will be a more difficult way to climb the mountain but that would be for the experienced or professional climber.

So depending on the route to the summit and the weather conditions on the day, the timing and experience of the climb will be different for each person. Overall the common experience will be: A climb that seemed ‘Out of Reach’ had been ‘Grasped’ and completed in their own particular way.

A high mountain top experience is indeed ‘Something Else.’ In Scotland there are many places that are ‘Something else’ such as the Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Sky. http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/cuillin.shtml

The West and East Highlands are truly wonderful and amazing to see and experience. We can learn many things when we are on top of the world but we also have to be able to navigate a descent successfully to the lowlands.

Alongside the mountains in Scotland are the many Coe’s, Valleys and Lochs. Glencoe in particular is breath-taking but it also has a dark history to it. http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Glencoe-and-Dalness/


A journey in the valley may run deep and feel troublesome. We can think that we may never walk again upon that hillside or mountain top. We can feel trapped, demotivated and everything seems ‘Out of our Reach.’

In such times it’s important to recall that we often learn more through a ‘valley experience’ than those delights on a mountain. When we are in those high places we can forget our roots, foundations and core values and enter into situations that do not benefit us long term.

When we are in the valley we may realise afresh what is important to us. Who are friends are and what are the most important core values we hold on to. We can be reminded that most things in life at one time or another do seem to be ‘Out of our Reach,’ yet through more focused thinking, feeling and acting we may be able to have them ‘Within our Grasp.’

In the Old Testament there are 150 Psalms that reflect the ups and downs of life. Many of them are Psalms of Complaint against those we live with and even against the Lord Almighty.

Yet there are far more Psalms of Comfort that remind us that as we ascend and descend from mountain top experiences to the valley, there is a comfort and guidance we may find at the very point of our particular needs.

The most popular and often referred to Psalm is Psalm 23 which can take us for a season into that calm and settled Plateau that is truly wonderful and ‘Something else.’

So whatever is ‘Out of your Reach’ today, may you be able to ‘Grasp hold of it’ in your thinking, feeling and actions. May you be an achiever and overcomer alongside many of the pupils who have been informed this month of passing or failing their exams?


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Perfect Rust

In the UK there are two periods in a calendar year when you can purchase a new car with a registration plate to suit. When we invest in a brand new car we expect perfection and pay a premium price.

insignia car

When we purchase a second hand car we are not concerned as much about the registration plate. Our expectation levels are more realistic according to its age and the price we will pay for it.

A new car has had lots of treatment upon its metal components to guard against decay and rust. An older car will have a reasonable amount of wear and tear and numerous places where rust has revealed itself.

mini car

We have a certain expectation when we purchase various goods and experiences. However, as we will all agree, nothing is perfect and complete in a continuous sense. Naturally we become disappointed in what we have and hope for, so we look to replace them with other items of perfection or have them repaired or upgraded.

The concepts of Perfection and Rust are polar opposites and pull us in one direction or another.

I wonder how you react to the desire and expectation to have things, situations and even relationships perfect. We have to realise that we are not perfect ourselves, for we all are subject to decay and rust which affects our hopes and aspirations.

Rust represents a deterioration process that is visible and substantial. It is an iron (red) oxide that is the result of iron and oxygen reacting through a presence of water or air moisture.

Many people desire perfection to maintain a state of happiness. This compares to those who are content with pre used items. A rusty anchor harbours the ship in a heavy storm and keeps it steady when the waves are calm. Something that is shiny and new may not be fully tested to fulfil its intended purpose!


I have just read an article, ‘Is Good Enough the new Perfection? https://uk.linkedin.com/in/andrewhhall by Andrew Hall an Executive coach.

He refers to the family environment that offers encouragement for us to be ‘a wonderful and clever child.’ This is compared to times of formal education when we have to study to succeed and often ‘only perfection is good enough!’ He then contrasts the present years in work and business.

Yes it is important to seek perfection and to value its outcome. The surgeon has to perform a successful operation so that the patient experiences healing. However, in many life situations we work towards a conclusion that is a ‘progress not a perfection.’


It can be argued that we strive too much in what we do and expect. It is vital then to stop, review and take life at a steadier pace.

Andrew asked the question: what drives us in our pursuit of perfection? It is important to aim for the highest but equally we have to balance such aspirations and be reassured that our ‘good enough’ is realistic and acceptable

Take some time to think about your expectations and ideal perfection from others and yourself?

Are there any imbalances that require identification and adjustment?

How can we become more realistic and ‘good enough’ to maintain that healthy balance in life?

In modern conversations you find that many conclude a given outcome or transaction with the response: ‘Perfect.’ In reality perfection is often a passing illusion and something that happens only briefly. It can seem that life has more of a propensity for decay rather than a continued perfection.

So we face a dilemma! The pursuit of perfection and the reality of rust. (Imperfection) What we want to be looking for is a ‘perfect rust.’

People who have a strong faith look forward to a time when the imperfect is replaced with the perfect in God’s heavenly presence. Such a view helps to balance the ‘perfect and imperfect’ and lays a basis to work realistically with that ‘perfect rust.’

I often see an example of ‘perfect rust’ on a local American pickup truck which has a ‘rust finish’ and looks really different and cool.

There is a student accommodation block in central Manchester called New Medlock House that also has a ‘perfect rust finish’ and looks equally cool and different.

new medlock house

There is something special about a newly painted gate compared to an old gate that shows the marks of rust and aging.

black gate

However, there can be a comfort with an old gate that has served an important purpose for many years and aged appropriately. It has all the hallmarks of ‘perfect rust’ that is ‘good enough’ to perform the required task on a daily basis with peoples appropriate thanksgiving.

Rusty gate

So may you enjoy and work well with your ‘perfect rust.’


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Cut back

A family member who works in environmental management, told me about the sources of renewable energy that are available, compared to the limited resources of Gas, Coal and Oil.

There is Nuclear fission and fusion. Water through a dam produces hydroelectric power. The waves from the sea and river offers energy from a barrage, stream, and dynamic system.
There are various forms of Solar power that produce a source of heat, light and electricity.

On and offshore Wind Turbines as well as High altitude wind may be viewed as enhancing or blighting our sea and countryside. To a lesser degree there is Geothermal, Biomass and an Air Source from the ground that energises our domestic and work places.


As individuals we want to renew what we have used or lost. Often in life we find that our daily strength drains away and we feel fatigued and discouraged.

In booking a trip or holiday away we desire to experience a renewal from our everyday work and home environment. We seek a rest to help recharge our human resources.

One of my favourite places in the UK is Cornwall and when I was younger loved surfing the waves!

If you check out this article. http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2007/oct/11/surfing.top10
it offers the top ten surfing spots in the UK and recommends that the best time to visit is in the autumn not the summer so as to catch the perfect wave.

For a beginner Watergate Bay in Cornwall is recommended.
The intermediate surfer will head for Sennen Cove also in Cornwall
True experts can travel north to Turso in East Scotland or south to Freshwater Bay in Pembrokeshire which I have personally experienced.

Freshwater Bay

An artificial wave pool in North Wales would be an exciting place to visit also! http://www.surfsnowdonia.co.uk

In the popular Beach boy’s song ‘Everybody’s gone surfin’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BaC95O37Os the surfers look forward to planning their route in their baggies. They wax down the surfboards and head straight for the waves, which in California, is best experienced in June!

The car is parked on the beach. We change into a wet suit if it’s cold or our swimwear if it’s hot. We check the conditions of the sea and get out the surf board. The beach patrol gives us the signal and then we get ready to go surfing.

We enter the sea and when it is deep enough we get on the surfboard and paddle to a place where the waves are strong.

We choose a big wave to mount and surf the best we can. The surf may last a brief moment or longer as we cruise along that powerful wave.

A surfer is always trying to maximise the length of the surf to enjoy it and entertain those watching. However, when they enter a flat section in the sea and the wave is backing off they will lose speed!

Action that makes a difference is required and that is a good ‘cut back.’ The surfer uses the wave to take them back to a more powerful part of it!

When the wave is high and they are placed under it, they look to surf the top of it rotating their bodies in a ‘cut back’ position. They stretch out the arms in a tee position to touch the top of the waves and gain that power to continue surfing.

In surfing the waves of life I wonder where your energy comes from.
What strategies do you have to try to regain any loss of energy?

When our strength fails it can cause us to feel down cast. It can affect our self-confidence, decision making, our relationships and personal health.

Often there is so much negative energy that surfaces around us that only serves to drain us.

How can we find that positive energy to renew and help us continue surfing the waves?
Functional manoeuvres can re-energise us. A dysfunctional energy and action takes the power from us and we feel fatigued again.

• In maintaining those physical energy levels that drive us, it’s important to enjoy regular exercise, keep a balanced diet and have sound sleep.

• To sustain our thinking we look for wisdom and teaching. Reading wholesome literature and listening to uplifting music can strengthen our understanding.

• In a holistic way we embrace spiritual reflection and contemplation. We can be ‘transformed by a renewal of our minds,’ (Romans 12 v 2) so not to lose heart. ‘Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.’ (2 Corinthians 4 v 16)

So think of a formulae or manoeuvre such as the ‘cut back’ in surfing terms, which may help you to find the power to enjoy and entertain your surfing in life?


It is vital to practise and apply what is required.

Whilst working towards the plan it is also important to take time to stop and rest and then be fresh to start all over again.

So may you enjoy the ‘energy’, practise the ‘cut backs’ and experience that important renewal and restoration!


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Identity Badge

Would you like to pause your life and create a new Identity?

We all ask the questions at some point. Who am I? What are my goals and values in life towards people I live and work with?

It is important to have a healthy self image and feel good! However it is vital to be assured of our own Identity!
ID Badge and to be comfortable in it. We wear Identity Badge’s that reflect our personal name, role, responsibility and even our belief?

In the crime comedy film ‘Identity Theft’ (2013) a man with a unisex name Sandy takes centre place. He has his identity stolen by a lady who starts spending money on his credit card.Dawn IT Sandy is threatened with the loss of his job and the police cannot solve the issue immediately. He takes matters into his own hand and after a series of events the lady is caught and imprisoned for her crime.

The lady did not know her birth parents or her own name. Her value was affirmed in somebody else’s identity. Sandy forgave her, included her into his own family and went on to find out her real name and family background.

A few weeks ago it was reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rev Justin Welby, had a DNA test. It was confirmed that his natural father wasn’t his biological father. jUSTIN wELBY

In an interview he said: ‘I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes. Although there are elements of sadness and tragedy, it’s a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives.’

This month I received the latest Cambridge paper entitled ‘Who am I today? It refers to the ‘Modern crisis of Identity,’ (Glynn Harrison. March 2016) and issued by the Jubilee Centre which promotes relational values. http://www.jubilee-centre.org/category/cambridge-papers/ At this point I will be reflecting on such findings.

New York Times said that 2015 was the ‘year everyone obsessed over identity’ and looked elsewhere to find a new one.

• A girl declared to her parents that she was ‘black’ not ‘white’ and they took her to court to dispute it.

• A father of seven decided that he wanted to become a six year old girl.

• One women declared that she was ‘born in the wrong species.’

Today numerous people reject a ‘given’ and decide to chose their own ‘self-identification.’ They pursue a freedom and a meaning to life without any due concerns for others. The right to self identify is fast becoming one of the defining features of modern life.

Erik Erikson in Identity, Youth, and Crisis New York: W.W. Norton 1968 says that: Personal identity represents a critical stage in the process of psychological maturation, making a difference from that we consider as ‘me’ and those areas that we feel are ‘not me.

Many sociologists look to ‘social construction’ to determine a person’s identity. Irving Goffman believes that society is constantly changing and people have to develop multiple identities to accommodate their different roles.

A lot of people argue for a ‘narrative identity.’ It is thought that in sharing stories with each other we are able to understand and define our own role and place.

Story telling

Personal identity is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, with a constantly changing plot-line that explains life and meaning. However in today’s world lots of people have an identity crisis!

Radical individualism does away with accepted constructs and replaces them with self-generated definitions, thereby people’s sense of coherence is challenged.

In the area of hyper connectivity we are constantly referring to our phones, iPads, PCs etc and respond accordingly. Many of us develop a virtual online identity which becomes a major part of our lives.
In the past certain structures that have held society together, have become more fluid and we constantly question what is real or unreal. To have a stable sense of identity is very important in the goal of personal wellbeing.

In having different names and identities we will also hold alternative worldviews that begin with or without a creator God. Gen 1 v 26 – 27 brings out that we are created in the image and likeness of God and that he values our life and activities.

The identities that we hold may be determined by the unconditional love of God or the formation of human values and self image. In reality we all live in the context of a bigger story known or unknown!

I wonder what you feel about modern individualism?

Does it deliver the freedom and authenticity it promises?

Are we enslaved in a continual process of self-reinvention?

So what Identity Badge are you wearing today? How does it make you feel and act?
badge will you be wearing throughout the coming week? Are we aware of the changes we make in our roles and responsibilities?

It is vital to be aware of the badges that are imposed upon us, which we may not like or appreciate? It is important not to let negative and life restricting words and actions take hold of us.

We are all named and valued in a human and divine sense. So may we be happy to wear our own special ‘Identity Badge’ with appropriate pride and fulfilment?


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