Before You Hit Send – A Book Review

Before You Hit SendIn our fast-paced, media-driven, information saturated society, communication is an important part of who we are. Considering how important communication is, one might think that we would work harder at getting better at it, but that’s not the case. When we consider social media, email, and other digital means of communication, we have to work harder at communication considering that there are so many possible opportunities for misunderstanding and misconstrual.

Personally, one of my mantras has always been, “Never send your first email.” I’ve realized the need to check and edit myself before sending things out. My first reaction and response email is usually not fit to be sent out, so I have to step back and think and assess before I send something out to ensure that I am communicating as clearly as possible.

The title alone of Emerson Eggerichs’ latest book “Before You Hit Send” drew me in. I was curious what the “Love and Respect” author would have to say about communication. Having experienced my own mishaps in communication, the subtitle, “Preventing Headache & Heartache,” was even more appealing to me.

While the book title alludes to digital communication, Eggerichs speaks more broadly to communication in various forms, writing and speaking predominantly. Eggerichs tells his reader that there are four questions that need to be asked prior to communicating: Is it true? Is it Kind? Is it necessary? And Is it clear? The book contains only four chapters, one for each of these questions.

Breaking a 200+ page book into four chapters presents one major problem: very long chapters. While I understand Eggerichs rationale in breaking the book up this way, there were enough sub-sections within the chapters that he could have broken them into individual chapters. Since he did not break up the chapters as such, the chapters end up about fifty or sixty pages long each, making it difficult to find good stopping points along the way for those who like to read chapter by chapter.

Each chapter begins with a lengthy Scriptural Meditation on the topic at hand. Eggerichs uses examples, both personal and otherwise, to speak about true speech, kind speech, necessary speech, and clear speech. He takes the reader through some of the typical culprits against each of these topics, listing them out with brief descriptions of each one. Then Eggerichs addresses each of these offenses with possible responses when we encounter those who communicate in the ways that he laid out.

As mentioned earlier, this book is not specifically about email and written communication, but all communication. The information shared by Eggerichs is valuable information for everyone who communicates, which is pretty much all of us. Despite the lengthy chapters, the information in “Before You Hit Send” is organized in such a way that this book can easily act as a resource and handbook on communication. The reader can flip to a section that may be specific to a situation with which they are dealing.

“Before You Hit Send” is a good resource for anyone who wants to be intentional in how they communicate. If we are honest with ourselves, we will probably find ourselves as culprits on some of the lists that Eggerichs shares. Whether we struggle in communicating truthfully, kindly, necessarily, or clearly, this book can help us on the road towards better communication.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Booklook Bloggers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)

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Speaking of Now

Having eulogized both of my parents at their respective funerals, I know a little bit of something about speaking words of someone when they’re gone. I consider myself fairly fortunate to have had an open and honest relationship with my parents, enough that not many things were left unsaid between us when they finally died. There were no major regrets felt by me, nothing that I felt I should or shouldn’t have said. Sure, there are always things you wish you could have said more, but I don’t feel like I missed saying anything important to them.

The thing is, while I know they aren’t wasted words, speaking kind memories after someone has gone, they sometimes feel as if they could have been even more significant if the person of whom they are about had been present at the time of their speaking. Like I said, I said all the things that I really needed to say to my parents, but I never stood in front of them and gave them one big tribute the way that I did at their funerals.

It kind of makes you think about the value of words said while people are still alive. Do we reserve the strongest and most powerful words for people once they’ve passed or are we honest with them while they sit across the table, room, computer, or phone line from us? Do we tell them the things that they need to hear or just what they want to hear? Do we encourage them and tell them how much they mean to us?

I’ve had two fairly distinct situations in the last week where encouraging words were spoken over someone who is still here. I shared about one of those experiences the other day, celebrating the 85th birthday of my wife’s grandmother. It was neat to hear the legacy tributes that were shared, the encouragement to her of her faithfulness, devotion, faith, and selflessness. It was probably also great for her to hear those things. While she exudes confidence, I am sure that in her 85 years of life, she’s had some doubts here and there, wondering whether or not all the sacrifices that she was making were really worth the efforts and, well, the sacrifice.

But those words were spoken over her, not over her lifeless body, over her life-filled body with ears that can hear, eyes that can cry, and a brain that can process. Those words will mean the same and still hold their power and strength either way, but they are so much more satisfying to the giver when the receiver can actually hear them.

The other distinct situation was the small birthday gathering of a friend who turned 40. A bunch of guys gathered around a firepit to just talk and hang out. While I had had grand plans of having everyone share stories, I realized in the midst of the time that co-opting it from what it had organically become would have turned it into something that it was not and most likely would have devalued it in some way.

As the time wound down as these men stood around a fire celebrating this brother and friend who is moving into a new decade of his life, the one who was being celebrated looked around the circle and spoke encouraging words over each and every person there. I had to chuckle to myself as I thought, “Wait a minute, this is supposed to be about him, not all of us.” That’s just him though, always wanting to spur others along.

I couldn’t resist co-opting the moment after he had finished his journey of encouragement around that circle. I spoke words over him and we all circled up around him, laid hands on him, and prayed over him. It was a holy and sacred moment, a moment of which you don’t experience many in life. Heaven touched earth and I had a sense that the Father was pleased by what he was seeing.

Not only was the Father pleased, but I am pretty sure that the one who was being celebrated was pleased as well. I think he was glad to have been the recipient of this time and celebration. I think he enjoyed it far more than he would have had he not been there, right?

Words are important. It was a stark reminder to me throughout all of these events, a reminder that I sadly need more than I’d like to admit. We can be quick with words or we can be slow with words. Sometime we wait too long to share them, sometimes we share before we’ve really had the chance to think through just what it is that we plan to say. Either way, words can hurt. In the words of INXS, “Words are weapons, sharper than knives.”

But words can lift up, they can lift us out of the pit, the ash heap on which we currently reside, and carry us up to the mountain, or at least out of the muck and mire in which we find ourselves. It’s important that we share them, especially those encouraging ones, now rather than waiting until tomorrow. After all, none of us knows what today or tomorrow holds.

If you’ve got something to say, say it, don’t wait until it’s too late. The words will be much sweeter for you when they’re shared with someone who can be physically and emotionally present to hear them and appreciate them. Everyone likes to hear an encouraging word, so why not share one today!