The Veteran Patient

This Veteran’s Day has been strikingly strange. Perhaps I just don’t see the world the same as others. Then again, maybe I do and everyone else has kept just as quiet as I have. The reality is, this week our national news has covered suicides and homicides committed by those belonging to the Veteran community. There is something profoundly dark at play but the national response is, “These poor men and women and their mental disorders. Cover your eyes with the flag and cloud your mind with these pills.” Of course, these are real and serious afflictions but in our brilliance, it appears we’ve outsmarted our very nature. As image bearers of God, we were created with a spirit that is as real as flesh. Yet when it comes to the care of our Veterans, the spirit is neglected.

  One of the first books I read after putting my faith in Christ was The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The book masterfully opens the readers’ eyes to the world of spiritual warfare. It follows the letters of a Senior Demon as he advises his protege nephew through the tactics of securing his first soul, referred to as, the “Patient.” The book was written by Lewis in England during the rise of Nazi Germany and into The Blitz of World War II. As I looked back over the writings of C.S. Lewis this week I thought, “How would Screwtape have told his beloved Wormwood to secure the soul of a “Veteran Patient”?” So I began to write.

My Dear Wormwood,

  I’m encouraged to hear that your patient has considered hurrying himself along. The suffering of man, though temporal as we know, often serves as a most useful tool. How lucky you are to have him out of this “war” and in the care of those who deal in intellect and distraction. I was pleased to hear that the patient has surrounded himself with such a great company of liars. You’ll soon find your work accommodating as they persuade the beast that his sickness excuses every good fruit; hate, anger, fear, impatience, slander, selfishness, doubt, cruelty, and entitlement. By such things, your accusations against him will be fortified. I’m eager to learn about your operations during his sleepless nights. How has the patient responded to the images of terror? Did you create excitement for things that will never be again? Self-pity? I hope you do remember to appeal to his guilt as soon as he awakes. They are wonderfully prideful creatures!

  I must warn you, dear nephew, to not tear your hook from his mouth in excitement. Though the patient is close to trading his temporal suffering for those that are permanent, your lust might expose you. An over-zealous thrust in haste could awaken him to the unseen. If in his suffering he seeks answers, do not be naive that the Enemy has told his human experiment plainly that such suffering is part of that rescue mission He calls Redemption. Should the filth find such propaganda he could be eternally lost to us. It is much better that he be blinded in confidence. Confidence in what is of no concern. Many have taken to prosperity, status, and chemical realities. These distractions have become great bonds in our campaign.

  Creating an appeal to suicide has been most productive before but I fear the tactic will be found lacking in strategy. What a great advantage it is when humanity thinks it will live forever. Do you assume the questions that accompany death will work to our advantage? Nephew, what will they look for when their knowledge and prescriptions prove as unsuccessful as we know them to be? What then, if they discover that they consist of more than flesh and a mind? It is a dangerous game. If the human appeals to the Enemy in his suffering he will assuredly be defended. If we are not careful we will see thousands turning to the One we don’t speak of and we know, once that painful cloud of light surrounds them, they are increasingly resilient to our attempts.

  This cannot be so. Move the patient to isolation. Direct any malice in his heart toward those closest to him who might intervene. Target his wife, children, and neighbors. If any love might arise in the patient, assure it is misdirected to the vaguest and most distant causes. Oh, the resentment this will stir! The human heart fears rejection more than death. Play gently, Wormwood! Do not awaken him to our existence until that terrific moment when he passes into the unseen and understands, only too late, that we have afflicted him all along. Until then, his isolation will allow you to work in peace until his destruction is accomplished.

Your affectionate uncle



(Photo Credit: Air Force Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall)

The Antonym of Feminism

Women's March

“What sort of world might it have been if Eve had refused the Serpents offer and had said to him instead, “Let me not be like God. Let me be what I was made to be — let me be a woman?”
― Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman:

There is strength in femininity! Women are inherently strong! Modern culture and the feminist movement have lied to young women for political gain. They’ve told them, “Men hold all the strength. Until you can do everything a man can do, there is no equality.” Why? Women were created with equal dignity and worth. Since when does the burden a proof belong to women? Has a man ever been asked to prove that he can do everything a woman can do? The folly is that many women have been convinced there is more strength available in masculinity than their unique strength in God’s original feminine design.

8 Reasons Veterans Hurt Each Other

Enduring FreedomWe all know that family. The parents who are willing to air their dirty laundry in front of an entire little league baseball complex. The youngest child covered with attention who still wants more, the forgotten middle child, and the oldest there to remind them that no one has had it worse than him. Collectively they barely seem like a family at all, but attack just one and you’ll feel the wrath of the whole. Infamous psychologist John Bradshaw wrote The Eight Rules for Creating a Dysfunctional Family. Control behavior and relationships, be right about everything, blame yourself or someone else, deny feelings, don’t talk honestly, make believe there isn’t a problem, stay upset, and don’t trust anyone.

Dear Veteran,

Welcome to the family.

One of the greatest epidemics currently plaguing the veteran community is Social Comparison. Based on titles and past experiences, individuals evaluate their peers and appraise themselves in comparison. An upward or downward appraisal promotes positive or negative feelings similarly to how we evaluate our self-image with elite athletes (Festinger, 1954) In 1975, William Cooper and John Ross introduced the “Me-First Rule”. The idea was that individuals categorize relationships in a proximal to distal function. The people who share elements most like the speaker will always be mentioned and given priority over those with less similarities. As one’s position or title increases, so does their perception of importance. Perhaps this explains why veterans downgrade fellow service members to elevate their own status. Fobbit, Grunt, POG, Leg, Desk-Jockey, con-artist, poser, wannabe.

With 1.7 million veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most generous estimate claims that 5-7% experienced some form of combat. 2017 Census Bureau statistics state that 340,000, roughly 20%, returned with Post Traumatic Stress. Let’s be honest. To many service members, the numbers just don’t add up. This perceived gap has created intergroup conflict where titles seem necessary to sift out the impurities of a collective image. This has created an atmosphere where both direct and indirect combatants feel victimized by the other. Those who served without engaging in direct combat feel disempowered and seek inclusion and acknowledgment of their contribution. Others who engaged in direct combat feel tainted, repressed, and offended by any such effort. Without their shared experiences, inclusion appears to be unmerited.

The Social Comparison war has spilled over into the world of social media. Infighting has led to increasingly hateful and disparaging rhetoric. Playful banter is quickly bombed with hateful remarks and battle lines are instantly drawn. Pick a side or get out of the way. Just know that if you leave you’ll be ridiculed just the same. In a community where the largest complaint is having nowhere to turn, veterans repeatedly cannibalize each other to the point of encouraging suicide. Yes, it’s a disgrace, but why do we do it? Remember the Eight Rules. As veterans separate, 17% are eventually treated for depression and anxiety disorders (Park et al., 2017). Identity conflict and alienation from a sense of community leave former service members with limited outlets. In lieu of that stability we seek to control. Control relationships, be right about everything, deny we have strong convictions, blame, pretend, stay mad, and trust no one. In that context, it sounds like a miserable way to live and it is. Post Traumatic Growth is largely defined by the creation of meaning. Unfortunately, too many have begun to believe that meaning should come at the expense of others. How has it not occurred that such a mentality completely contradicts the oath and core values of all. Men who spent the best years of their lives serving and protecting have now embodied the same selfish and malicious natures they once opposed.

“Let each man search his own conscience and search his speeches. I frequently search mine. Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” – Winston Churchill

D-Day +73 Years


Today is the the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. 160,000 men landed on a beach in France. 4,400 allied men died in a single day. Over 200,000 were wounded. Why? To liberate the oppressed. Not oppressed by a traditional definition of marriage, or GMO labels, or global warming. I mean true oppression. Genocide. Just like the genocides occurring in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq at this very moment. Human Rights to our forefathers meant selflessly laying down their lives in the service of people they would never meet. Human Rights today requires others to lay down their values for our selfish desires. This is not a “Pro-Trump” post. This is a prayer for the condition of our hearts.

Veteran Suicide: The Sound of Silence


disturbedI am an absolute fan of Disturbed and their recent cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”. Most of you have heard the song and some of you have listened to the lyrics. When Paul Simon wrote the song he was 21-years old, alone in the bathroom of his parent’s home, and inspired by some college textbooks to write a song about man’s inability to communicate. 52 year later, these lyrics still apply. 

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Images of human suffering, loss, and humanity in its most primitive form. Sometimes the darkness is all you feel is left for you. The world has made warfighters into victims. A generation once celebrated is now led to believe they are somehow broken. The visions that planted seeds and still visit them while they are sleeping are too taboo to discuss with family and friends. They’re told no one will ever understand them, so they are isolated and remain in the silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by
The flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Walking alone, turning their collar to the cold and damp, they try to protect themselves. To hide what our culture says it doesn’t want to know, yet glorifies it in every fictional form it can. When the time comes and for a moment they see light at the end of the tunnel and it feels like someone is trying to break through, they look closer to find the same Neon Light. Ten thousand people talking, but no one is really saying anything. People who say they hear and understand, yet aren’t listening. Patriotic songs and media frenzy occurs but the poetic stories of those who have endured and overcome are never shared. No one really wants to know the Truth.

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

Hear them? I hear the same stories every week. There’s even a #22challenge to promote awareness for the 22 reported Veteran Suicides each day. But the cancer grows. Instead of praising men for their sacrifice and listening to their stories we fear relationships. Hear their words so they might teach you and take their hands as they reach out. They know how to fix this! However, society is content to play off their advice and dismiss them as confused, illogical or broken. They couldn’t possibly be proud or have enjoyed what they were clearly and divinely designed for, could they? So their words fall silent into the wells with all those before them.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made

And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming

And the sign said:
“The words of the prophets are
Written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”

Daniel 5:8: Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.

  As our government and power brokers continue to beat their chest and praise the kingdom they’ve built, it seems even the wisest cannot predict what will happen. But the words of the prophets, the warfighters who have returned, are written on the walls of their homes. The tenements, the apartments, the subways of blue-collar America. They see a generation that desires to be empowered. They see resilient men who stood with passion. They see the drab future of an America that continues to victimize those who defended her honor and the more we isolate them, the more they will take their lives in desperation.

As I transitioned after 4 tours in combat I walked into their struggle. I fought to find purpose again and break myself from the lie that I was a broken man. When I hit my face in prayer these are the words He said.

“I created you to be a warrior. Never be ashamed of my creation.”

Fellow warfighters: You are courageous. You are loved. You are worthy. I am here for you.

A Thorn in the Flesh




Months without medication, weeks without nightmares, and not a single debilitating migraine in recent memory. If there was ever such a thing as a “groove”, I’m hitting mine! Yea, I’ve had some headaches, but not the dark bathroom, cold tile, dry heave in the toilet migraines I’ve grown to know. Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress, Disassociation, Addiction…it’s all been made out to be way more than it should. I’ve been working hard at this physically, mentally, and spiritually for the past 2 years and my recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. I don’t understand why it’s harder for some guys to power through it. I’m finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Choo-Choo, Dallas. Choo-freakin’-choo.


It’s taken a week for the tsunami of migraines, insomnia, nightmares and anxiety to break me. Most men desire to hold the line until the last possible moment. The consequence however, leaves us falling back to our new fighting position with a sense of urgency and there’s rarely someone ready to meet you there. Being bullheaded the way I am, when I ran out of the medication I needed, I never reordered it. My logic was that you cannot become dependent on something you do not have. With nowhere to turn, it was time to make that shameful walk back to the VA. I visited two centers which highlighted in correspondences of “Unless you’re having an “episode” or your about to hurt yourself, you’ll just have to tough it out.” And “Are you alright? You’re not gonna jump out my window are ya?”

Severe and debilitating migraines are common among veterans who have sustained a traumatic brain injury

Waiting in the lobby I tried to figure out where I went wrong. What was I doing to cause this to all come rushing back. Maybe it was too much stress or not enough sleep. Maybe I had been thinking too much about lost teammates. I have an old habit that seems impossibly hard to break. When things go wrong, I eventually try to figure out what God is punishing me for. Not only is this the complete opposite of His nature, it’s exactly how the enemy would have me view Him and our relationship. In that moment God reminded me that in our suffering He offers us comfort and through our suffering he invites us into a closer relationship. Waiting in the lobby at the VA I prayed, but not to speak, just to listen.  Then a whisper, “A thorn in the flesh”.






Like a freight train those words barreled into me. How convicting yet still comforting at the same time. God has given us all a unique testimony and from it comes our unique sphere of influence. He knows where my heart is and knows those that I desire to serve. On countless occasions, I’ve prayed that I would remain dependent on Him and that I would be humbled. What I see now, is that He is answering my prayers. My words wouldn’t hold weight if I didn’t deal with the same trials as the men I walk with. My story wouldn’t hold any humility if I didn’t share the weaknesses inside it. There is no room for Him, if I make it all about me. So today, I am well content with weakness, because His grace is sufficient.

Confessions of a Pee Wee Football Coach


Football Family,

After the game this Saturday, undoubtedly your sons did the same as mine. Changed out of their uniform, had some lunch, and went on about their business being young men. I’m not sure why I had it in my mind that they would take this loss harder than they did. Instead, the first thing my son mentioned was, “We didn’t lose a game for over 2 years. That’s pretty awesome!” I understand this looks like a letter about 4th grade football from a guy who technically isn’t even a coach, but hang with me. This letter isn’t about football. This is family having a talk that’s been a long time coming.


As the boys came on and off the field this Saturday it wasn’t that I saw something in their eyes. I saw something missing. No spark, no joy, no hustle…no fun. You see, around this age young men start looking for validation. Everything they do is about testing their strength against something else. In these coming years our future husbands, fathers, business owners, whatever they choose, are beginning to shape their self-image and world view. Although not directly, they are daily asking us the question, “Do I have what it takes?” How we respond has everything to do with the men they become.


This weekend my heart was heavy. More often than not we, the family, offered less fruit and more frustration. Instead of words of encouragement and praises for the things done right, we focused on mistakes and missed opportunities. I can’t think of anything worse to a 9-year-old boy than to be fighting a battle on the field only to meet a second battle on the sideline. I have to apologize to you, parents. I was more concerned this week with your sons’ performance on the field than I was his development off the field. Consequently, I didn’t do the best job protecting their hearts this weekend. There were tears in the huddle not because of the physical pain or their own disappointment. They had tears because of the pressure they felt to perform and the disappointment in their family’s voices. I had no words that could pull them out of that rut. A parent or coach’s painful words are hard to overcome. What happens in our hearts and minds that makes us numb to the reality that we’re stealing our children’s joy? If I had that answer I’m sure I’d have been on Dr. Oz by now but the truth is I don’t. Somewhere in our own brokenness, maybe we just don’t know a better way.


Somewhere around that field every week, I look at screaming coaches as they pile fear and anxiety on their players and I refuse to be one of them. Discipline is necessary so everyday won’t be rainbows and puppies for our boys. My commitment to you however, is that I won’t be the one to steal their joy. I will daily encourage and love these boys so they will know that their worth is more than what they can offer on a football field. My commitment is that when your child askes, “Do I have what it takes?”, he will get a resounding, “Yes!”


-Dallas Bozeman


Human Factors- Is Your Stress Killing You?

Overworked Japanese Worker

Workers in warehouse. Istockalypse Tokyo, Japan

It’s no secret that stress has negative effects on our body. Each year more and more data is accumulated outlining the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of stress. When discussing stress as it relates to Human Factors we’re often concerned with the onset of fatigue or distraction. Acute stress is intense. We’re talking heat of the moment, down to the wire, in your face, redline stress! It’s very difficult but often short-term. Think of a traumatic event or serious deadline that someone dropped on you about oh, 30 seconds ago. Chronic Stress is much different. Chronic stress is the grind. The constant burden we’re never able to get out from under so we’ve just kind of gotten used to dragging it around. This is more in line with the early mornings, late nights, never quite caught up, can’t relax slugfest. Those who suffer from chronic stress feel the pressure to perform constantly and often times begin to suffer greatly for it. The most dangerous part is that they no longer recognize it as stress. Now, it’s just become life. Most of you are nodding your heads right now because you can already relate. Below are some of the physical, mental, and social risks of poorly manages stress.

The Body:

According to the American Psychological Association, when the body is stressed, muscles become tense; it’s an automatic response, the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. With the sudden onset of stress, the muscles tense all at once, then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress causes the body to be in a constant state of guardedness. When muscles are tense over a long period of time, it may trigger other reactions of the body and promote stress-related disorders. Tension-type and migraine headaches are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck, and head.

Chronic, long-term stress can contribute to problems of the heart and blood vessels. The consistent increase in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as the higher level of circulating stress hormones, take a toll on health. They increase the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attack and stroke.

Recurrent acute and persistent chronic stress can contribute to inflammation in the circulatory system, especially the coronary arteries. It is believed that it’s such inflammation that ties stress to heart attacks. Chronic stress can also elevate total cholesterol levels.

Stress can make you breathe harder. That’s not a problem for most people, but for those with asthma or a lung disease such as emphysema, getting the oxygen you need to breathe easier can be difficult. And some studies show that an acute stress such as the death of a loved one can actually trigger asthma attacks, in which the airway between the nose and the lungs constricts.In addition, stress can cause the rapid breathing or hyperventilation that can bring on a panic attack in someone prone.

For women, the effects can be even more devastating. Dr. Len Lopez stated,

“The rate of infertility, miscarriages, and C-sections are at an all-time high. Add everyday worry and anxiety to the equation and you will easily see how stress can contribute to these problems.Stress, as it does in so many areas of our lives, interferes with the reproductive process and is a major cause for infertility and miscarriages. The reason is simple: lack of progesterone.The word progesterone means “for gestation,” which means that women, you need this hormone in its right balance if you want be become pregnant and stay pregnant. Progesterone nourishes the uterine lining in preparation of the implanted fertilized egg. It is progesterone that continually feeds and nourishes the uterus during pregnancy. Unfortunately, constant stress causes a decrease in your progesterone levels.When you are constantly in that “fight or flight” mode because of stress, your adrenal glands will produce additional cortisol and adrenaline. This is a normal bio-chemical process. The problem is that in order to make cortisol, your adrenal glands need progesterone. This causes your progesterone to be used in making your stress hormones, as opposed to what it is designed to do —support your pregnancy.”

The Mind:

Stress can also cause individuals to suffer impaired judgement, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is because stress makes it difficult for people to think things through before making decisions. Income cases, it hinders people from making any decision at all.

Ciaran O’Connor of Psych Central wrote, “Perhaps my favorite quote on decision making comes from Mr. Miyagi.

Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later… you get squish just like grape.

  Mr. Miyagi’s point is that if you are going to make a decision, then make it 100 percent. An attractive prospect, sometimes one we’re unaware of, is to take action, but only halfheartedly. You might decide to take the plunge and start a new business venture, but also spend precious and potentially profitable hours looking for other work just in case it doesn’t work out. It’s almost guaranteed in this situation you will get squish like grape.”

  The catch-22 of stress and indecision is the vicious cycle found in their relationship. Stress causes indecision and indecision causes stress. The wheel just keeps spinning until one of issues is addressed.

  Depression is an enormous concern with stress. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley recently discovered that chronic stress can catalyze long-term changes in the human brain. This could help explain why those that suffer from chronic stress are more likely to become victim to other mental issues like anxiety and mood disorders.  People with depression may experience a lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

  Those with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat. Increased blood pressure and other physical changes associated with irritability and anger make it difficult to think straight and harm your physical and mental health.

  Stress and anxiety are a known cause of multiple sleep disorders. Whether the stress is acute or chronic there are ways to overcome frequent occurrences. As someone who has learned to deal with sleep disorders the best method I’ve found is Sleep Hygiene. Dr. Michael Thorpy of the Sleep Foundation recommends these practices

  • Avoid napping during the day. It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
  • Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
  • Food can be disruptive right before sleep.  Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
  • Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.


According to the National Library of Medicine, many of the major theories of addiction also identify an important role of stress in addiction processes. These range from psychological models of addiction that view drug use and abuse as a coping strategy to deal with stress, to reduce tension, to self medicate, and to decrease withdrawal-related distress,31–37 to neurobiological models that propose incentive sensitization and stress allostasis concepts to explain how neuroadaptations in reward, learning, and stress pathways may enhance craving, loss of control, and compulsion, the key components in the transition from casual use of substances to the inability to stop chronic use despite adverse consequences, a key feature of addiction.

  Would you believe that stress could actually make you accident prone? Berkeley Wellness writes that most of us can recall a time when we were distracted or upset and then had an accident. Chronic emotional stress, deep grief, and serious emotional problems also increase the risk. Studies of athletes, for example, have found that players under severe emotional (or physical) stress are more vulnerable to injury. Moreover, an initial serious injury can, in turn, produce stress that makes entire families vulnerable, so that injuries often cluster. A study in Pediatrics last year found that when a child was seriously injured, there was a 20 percent chance that a sibling would be injured (or the first child re-injured) during the next three months. And the new accidents weren’t necessarily similar to the initial ones.

Regardless of how resilient or adapted you may be at some point stress will enter your life. The key is recognizing its effects and remedying the root causes before they become chronic symptoms. For stress resources, information, and treatment options check out just a few of the references below.

The American Psychological Association

LSU Health Science Center

Psych Central 

Berkeley Wellness

The Lung Institute

Mayo Clinic

Human Factors- Lack of Communication

Two tin can used as a phone attached with a red string

red string can phone isolated on white

Whether it’s your business or personal life one thing will always remain the constant of success. Our ability to communicate is the hinge that allows doors to open or becomes the rusty fixture that jams our best efforts.

In today’s world it seems communication has become a lost art. Today’s market consists of the greatest minds and technology we’ve ever known yet it seems we’ve forgotten the basics. Conversations have been replaced with text messages. The majority of our daily coorespondence is communicated through e-mail. Areas that once relied heavily on the “personal-touch” such as customer service and marketing have now become automated nightmares.

The problem is that in our throw-away society, we’ve replaced communication with convenience.
How many of you have received a text on your phone that left you wondering, “What did they mean by that?” Our problem is that we’ve begun to rely so heavily on the words, we’ve forgotten the relationships behind them. Research has shown that words only make up 7% of our communication. The other 93% is comprised of gestures and tones. I’m sure you’ve all sat through one of those meetings where the individual presenting said all the right things but the tone, or lack there of, derailed the entire presentation before it ever began. The truth is that our words hold very little weight if we can’t get them across effectively.

Lack of communication results in the disfunction or organizations, families, and marriages. Here are three common pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them.

  1. Unrealistic Expectations: It’s not always so much that we fail to communicate expectations to employees and those we have relationships with, it’s that our expectations have more to do with satisfying our own desires and ego. Too often we have a picture in mind of how the relationship should flow. When our selfish expectations aren’t met, we feel disappointed and even at times, betrayed. A client shows interest in a service then months later still hasn’t committed. We feel like they’re wasting our time. Rather than nurturing the relationship and remaining supportive we’re tempted to change our tone. “Do something already!” The problem isn’t them. The problem is we’ve made an assumption. Do you know why soon-to-be-wed couples rarely seek pre-marital counseling? It’s because they don’t want someone to walk in and burst their bubble. In their minds eye they have a picture of how the next few decades should play out and the last thing they need is someone to put them in check. Divorce is what happens to other people. Our expectations are unrealistic but if it satisfies our ego and it feels good, it’s tough to let go. Whether in business or personal relationships it’s important to remember that we’re there to serve, not to be served. The less you make it about you, the easier it will be to manage your own expectations.
  2. Lack of Preparation: How often have you sat down prior to a conversation or business meeting and outlined not only what you wanted to say, but mapped out how you wanted to say it. I typically see parties walk into a room, each with their own agenda, and watch as the conversation quickly spirals down a rabbit hole. When conflict arises in the workplace or at home a simple outline can save you a ton of headache or maybe even a night on the couch. First, name the issue at hand. It’s important to be clear what the root problem is. Next, provide a specific example of the behavior and explain how you perceive their actions or your emotions. Clarify what’s at stake and why it is important to you personally or to your organization. Be open and honest if you’ve contributed to the issue in any way. Sharing in responsibility will help the other party come a long way. Everyone is more willing to meet in the middle when they’re not carrying the blame entirely. Lastly, communicate your desire to resolve the issue and most importantly, hear them out. Nothing is more harmful to the process than a one-way conversation. Here’s an example. (John, you’re crew has been running a spark producing saw in a potential gas environment without a permit. I feel like you don’t value the safety of our operation or respect the policies we have in place. Without a permit, we could potentially open a valve in your area and seriously injure or kill your crew. I’m sorry if I didn’t explain the permitting process before or why it’s critical to our operation. I want to get this ironed out to keep you all as safe as possible while we work together. What can I do to help?) Although this example is pretty bland, it’s a real conversation I’ve had with severe consequences if not communicated effectively.
  3. Credibility: The days of, “Do as I say, not as I do.”, are long gone. In order to influence relationships we must have credibility. It’s impossible to lead and have a voice when others have seen you contradict your own words. Spilling lines about safety, efficiency, and integrity are useless if you’ve failed to embody any of the above. Telling men to do what’s right and follow procedures doesn’t hold water if you’re the first person to cut corners when the pressure is on. During my first tour in Afghanistan, disarming improvised explosive devices, we had specific procedure designed to keep us as safe as possible throughout the process. Halfway through our tour, before making an approach on a known device, a junior team member of mine asked why I had decided to address the device manually when I could use a robotic platform to do the same job. My only reasoning was that it was hot and this would be much faster. Bottom line; I was wrong. By the grace of God I was fortunate enough to have brothers who cared less about my title than getting me home to my family in one piece. I realized my error, backed down and did things right. Although not many words were said a great deal of communication had taken place. I was about to lose my credibility as a safe operator and my team members were assertive enough to call me out. If I had followed through because it was more convenient, my guys may have questioned every decision I made from then on. If they hadn’t been bold, I may have suffered the consequences. Ultimately, communication is nothing without integrity.