03. Communication Breakdown

Note: These scenarios are not gender-specific. Depending on the sex of the person reading this, male and female roles can be switched.

You notice that your friend appears to have suddenly begun to ignore you. You have been on excellent terms with him for the most part, talking often and at length, and you find the change in him both unsettling and upsetting. This is what you do:

a. You pick up the phone to everybody who will listen and complain about how much your friend has changed, badmouthing him as much as possible while at it.

b. You sulk and wait until your friend and everybody from the paperboy to the milkman notices how upset you are, though you refuse to tell anyone what is wrong.

c. You call your friend and tell him you are hurt. Since you haven’t heard from him, ask him why he is silent.

d. You decide that you don't want anything to do with a person so unloving - or even the company he keeps - and quit attending the same parties (or prayer group) that he attends.

Adam and Eve should be credited with Original Foolishness, along with Original Sin, because it is the first that led to the other, really. They both knew what they shouldn't do, but still went ahead and did it. While with Adam and Eve, the desire to be Godlike must have been a tremendous temptation to idiocy, most of the bad choices we make result from nothing but plain silliness.

This situation (with minor variations like an off-the-cuff remark that one takes offense to, a bad joke, a barbed comment, or a perceived lack of affection/concern/caring) is a case in point. I see it recurring so often that it has ceased being funny, especially because all that is needed to resolve the situation is a willingness to talk!

Keeping the following points in mind might help you make the right decision.

  1. Most of the time, when friends hurt you or cause offense, it is unintentional, and it is quite probable that they don't even realize that they have done something to cause you offense. By sulking, avoiding, or slandering them, we succeed in doing nothing more than being unloving, which is a sin. And it does nothing whatsoever to solve the problem.
  2. God tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27). If we are prepared to do this, we can begin practicing by loving our friends, which means not changing our attitudes toward them, even if they hurt us. In most instances, this is unintentional, as a brief chat with them will undoubtedly reveal.
  3. We tend to be self-absorbed people who often think the world revolves around us and that everything everybody does is directly related to us. It might help to look outside yourself at the other person and see that the person allegedly ignoring us might be hurting himself and needs you to pay him some attention.
  4. It wasn't the British who invented the divide-and-rule policy; the devil got there first. And he is constantly at work, sowing seeds of discord and enmity between people. One of his favorite methods is planting thoughts in your mind that somebody you are close to is ignoring you, talking behind your back, slandering you, mistreating you, etc. More often than not, we buy into the lies fed to us and retaliate in the same manner we believe we are being treated. The enemy wins.

I have seen people exercise options (a), (b), and (d) with alarming frequency, and while all responses are wrong, the first one is particularly so. As stated above, in most cases, the offending party is unaware that he has caused injury and probably didn't mean any. To suddenly subject him to slander or other abuse just because you want to retaliate is evil, and I call it such to strongly discourage you from making such attacks.

Exercising option (b) is ridiculous, and eventually, people get fed up with your mournful face because your reticence to talk will make it appear you are putting on a sad face for effect. Option (d) is purely reactive and serves no purpose. Suppose you keep hopping from party to party (or prayer group to prayer group) because the people in it aren't loving enough. In that case, you will resemble a grasshopper with the runs because you will never find a party (or prayer group) where you will be happy.

There is nothing like option (c) to resolve the issue, and I can guarantee it will always work. Try it the next time you are upset with somebody, and let me know if it doesn't work!


  1. Practice direct communication: When you feel hurt or ignored by a friend, resist the urge to gossip, sulk, or avoid them. Instead, approach your friend directly and express your feelings in a calm and non-accusatory manner. This opens the door for honest conversation and resolution.
  2. Assume the best: Before reacting to perceived slights, consider that your friend's actions may be unintentional or stem from their own personal struggles. Approach the situation with empathy and understanding rather than immediately assuming the worst.
  3. Seek to understand: When discussing the issue with your friend, listen actively and try to understand their perspective. Ask questions and show genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings. This fosters a more productive and caring dialogue.
  4. Extend forgiveness: If your friend acknowledges their wrongdoing and apologizes, be quick to forgive and move forward. Remember that we all make mistakes, and extending grace to others is a fundamental aspect of loving relationships.
  5. Pray for wisdom and discernment: Before confronting your friend, pray for God's guidance and wisdom. Ask for the ability to communicate effectively, listen attentively, and respond with love and compassion.

Communication breakdowns in friendships can be painful and confusing, but they don't have to spell the end of the relationship. We can often resolve misunderstandings and strengthen our bonds by approaching the situation with love, empathy, and willingness to communicate directly. As Christians, we are called to extend grace and forgiveness, just as we have received them from God. By practicing these principles in our friendships, we can foster a culture of open communication, understanding, and genuine love.