Because we talk so much we like to think that others listen. Not only do we think they listen; we tend to assume they understand. But words can be notoriously slippery.
I can insist that when I say “I feel gay today” that I simply mean what the word ORIGINALLY meant. I’m happy. I can keep on doing that if I want to. My guess is, it won’t really work. I can keep calling myself a “Christian” and simply HOPE that people understand what I am, but I doubt it’s gonna be all that helpful. I can call myself a Muslim in Muslim lands and think to myself I’m simply one who submits to God, but I know that’s not what my hearers are thinking I mean.
He then gives three simple suggestions to increase understanding in our communication.
- Be sensitive to the hearers. Place yourself in their shoes. Ask questions to fully understand where they’re coming from and how they might hear (feel) what you’re about to say.
- Avoid one-word terms. Or at least if you use them, define them. Words like “conservative” or “liberal” or “church” or “Christian” or “bible” or “evangelical” don’t really communicate that well these days. Be skeptical of your ability to really say what you mean by using a one word term. I prefer to not use words like that at all, but rather explain what I mean in 2 or 3 sentences.
- Ask the hearer if they caught what you said after you say it. Don’t assume. You know what ass-u-me…ing does.
Carl lived in Beirut for 12 years and has a lot of experience working with Muslim and Christian leaders from all over the world to help them see how the leadership principles of Jesus Christ can change their nations.