Ambiguous Questions

Why did Paul send Tychicus to Ephesis?

This was one of the questions that we were supposed to answer before meting together in a small group (after reading Ephesians 6 in the Bible). The passage discusses Paul wanting to send Tychicus to give news of their work.  When we got together as a small group though people seemed to be answering a completely different question:

Because Tychicus was Paul’s best friend

Because Paul trusted Tychicus.

I read the question as: “For what purpose did Paul send someone to the Ephesians”, but many others read the question as: “For what reason did Paul send Tychicus instead of himself”. Of course, the person asking the question had one answer in mind, but the answers vary greatly depending on how you read the question.

This happens all the time.  We ask a question, and receive an answer that seems to be a complete non sequitur to what we asked.  This is not an example of the other person providing a koan (e.g.  “What is Buddha?” Dongshan said, “Three pounds of flax.”) but rather stems from ambiguity in the question. The problem is that neither communicator even sees the ambiguity because for both it was perfectly clear in their mind. This is the root of miscommunication.

Next time you find yourself miscommunicating with someone, see if you can find the ambiguity and identify ways to eliminate it.







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