Are We Just Too Broke to Pay Attention?

The economy is down and, it appears, we are all just too broke to pay attention.  In today’s microwave society people are always looking for ways to save time…but are we actually spending more time because of miscommunication?  You know that old phrase, “Do it right the first time and you won’t have to spend time doing it again.”  I think our nanoseconds would be better spent if we heeded this time honored time saver!

I don’t know about you, but I have had a tough time communicating lately.  Folks are busy and they are trying to find short cuts for whatever they do.  I can’t count the number of times I have sent an email to someone and had them reply asking for the very information that was still included in the original email which was attached underneath their reply!  Ever seen one of these?

From: Sally
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 9:49 PM
To: Mary
Subject: Re: Coffee on Friday?

Hi Mary,
What day and time?


>From: Mary
> Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 9:47 PM
> To: Sally
> Subject: Coffee on Friday?
> Dear Sally,
> How about coming over on Friday at 9am for some coffee?
> Love,
> Mary
Not only did Sally take extra time to send a reply to Mary asking for the very information Mary already gave her, but she has communicated to Mary that her email wasn’t worth her time to read properly in the first place.  Additionally, it communicates to Mary that Sally doesn’t think Mary’s time is as valuable as hers.  She is now requesting that Mary spend more of her time to answer a question she has already answered.  Furthermore, it takes even more of Sally’s time to have to read through another one of Mary’s emails.

Ever hear your kids, with their face in the refrigerator, say something like this:

“Mom!  Where’s the milk?”

What ensues is a time wasting discussion about the fact that they have looked and you know it’s in there.  I usually end up going to the refrigerator and pointing directly in front of their nose which breaks the code illuminating the BIG WHITE PLASTIC CONTAINER.

“You have to look when you’re looking!”

Why was it necessary to demystify the existence of the milk I often wonder?  Is it invisible to children?  Sometimes what they are looking for isn’t right in front of their nose but just behind the milk.  It never occurs to them to move the milk to look behind it.  Oh no!  That would take far too many nanoseconds!  What results is a twenty minute “discussion” where they yell up from downstairs and you yell down from upstairs each arguing the merits of his case until you decide it would take far less time to run downstairs and point out the almost empty glass of chocolate milk!

Life’s busy in the 21st Century, but if we all take just a few moments to really read or listen to the other party, we might actually save ourselves a great deal of time and frustration.  Read those emails carefully before you reply.  Actively listen to the speaker before you respond.  Move that milk carton just a smidge!  You just might answer your own question…before you spend endless nanoseconds to ask it!


JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication studies for the whole family, please visit