What's the difference between speaking and nagging? Speech involves one individual speaking words and ideas, another individual hearing words and ideas. Nagging is defined as one person articulating words and thoughts, another person hearing — at best — grating static.

We usually have only one chance to communicate an important message. If we botch that opportunity, the odds of the recipient "getting" the message in a second go-round are greatly minimized. As such, substantial thought and planning should precede any conversation of significance.

Undoubtedly, the Creator assured that the words would enter one ear—and then stay put.In our nation's 3,300 year history, G‑d has directly addressed us exactly once, when G‑d descended upon Mount Sinai and gave ten commandments to an assembled nation. One communiqué that was intended to last more than three millennia. Without a doubt, the Creator of speech utilized this opportunity to its maximum, and assured that the words He uttered would enter one ear — and then stay put.

The Midrash says that the mighty voice that spoke the Ten Commandments had no echo. An echo occurs when sound waves encounter resistance, striking an impenetrable obstruction. G‑d's voice had no echo because it penetrated. It pierced desert mountains and human minds and hearts — nothing and no one blocked the voice out.

In doing so, G‑d also left us a perfect prototype to follow on those occasions when we really want our words to be taken seriously.

Here are some conversation lessons I gleaned from the Great Communication:

Don't "btw" It

It wasn't sudden or unexpected. It wasn't "Oh, good that you're here. There's something I wanted to discuss..." or "What did you just do? We've got to have a talk right now!"

Three days in advance G‑d relayed to the Israelites that He had an important message. When the time arrived, the nation was prepared, curious, and eager. The momentousness of the occasion had sunk in — and they were receptive.

Choose Your Timing

"On the third day when it was becoming morning..." Considering that the Sinai event featured a spectacular "light and sound" show ("And all the people could see the sound and the flames"), would it not have been that more impressive and awe-inspiring had the event been scheduled for after dark?

Apparently G‑d did not want to address a weary nation. He chose a moment when the mind is clear and most alert — and receptive.

Choose Your Setting

Contrary to popular conception, G‑d is not in the habit of performing miracles simply to impress"When G‑d gave the Torah, a bird did not chirp or take wing, an ox didn't low, angels didn't fly or sing G‑d's praise, the sea didn't move..." (Midrash). Contrary to popular conception, the Talmud tells us that G‑d is not in the habit of performing miracles simply to impress. Every miracle has a purpose. So why did G‑d hush all other voices aside for His own? Would His voice have been drowned out by all this common background noise? Or is the elimination of even minor distractions vital to creating an atmosphere wherein the listener is completely tuned in and receptive?

Use Both Sides of Your Mouth

The Midrash also tells us that G‑d's voice serenaded the Israelites from all four directions, as well as from above and below. Before delivering your message, ask yourself: "Am I broadcasting this message from all directions? Or is there some part of me that is signaling a different message altogether? If that is the case, have a conversation with yourself before attempting to convince another. If you have not internalized the message, there's little chance that you will find the other person receptive.

Mince Words

The whole grandiose event centered around ten commandments, expressed in exactly 620 letters. It left room for the addressees to ponder the words and consider its multiple meanings and lessons. It gave room for thought instead of stifling it. Got the other person to think? He's already receptive!