I work for a leadership development company. I love what I learn as I work. One of the most impressive and effective training sessions we do is “Managing Conflict”. In that session, there is much information regarding how we communicate. One facet of effective communication is recognizing the impact/intent dynamic. As we communicate with others day in and day out – family, friends, co-workers – we should learn to pay attention to the signs that there may be a disconnect or issue between our actual intent and the impact on someone in which we are relating. Many people benefit from learning and implementing these concepts of giving/receiving information. They are extremely helpful in avoiding long-term conflicts and mis-communications. We’ve had great feedback from this particular training.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately … mostly because within social media this aspect of communication is clearly lost. When chatting face to face with someone, intent is difficult to decipher. But through writing, it most certainly is. When discussing intent/impact in our trainings, we usually focus on the “sender” of information. It’s his or her job to consider the impact of what is being said and how it’s being said. We may have good intentions, but if we communicate otherwise, it’s our responsibility to clarify what we mean and to make sure we are understood. (As a receiver of information, it’s important to keep from judging the intent of the giver but to also clarify for greater understanding).
Although these are great principles, as a Christ follower I recognize that my authority does not come from a business leadership manual. And yet, as I process all of these concepts, I have also concluded that the bible speaks to so many of them … our words, our judgments, our intent/motives, and our impact. We have been given much biblical guidance on how we are to give/receive information and how we are to respond when there has been mis-communication or misunderstanding. Foundationally, as Jesus-people, we are to put on humility in all of our relationships. (Col 3)
Unfortunately, it seems to me that humility is often missing in the way we communicate as Christ followers. Whether we are the giver or the receiver in our communication with others (face to face or through social media), we must practice humility. Since there is no possible way to avoid misunderstandings, even as believers, it’s important for us to work towards mutual understanding when possible. Living this way is a sign we are growing in Christ (Eph 4)
I admit that I get frustrated (which is certainly not a sign of humility in myself) with so many of the comments and so much of the dialogue that occurs within Christian circles. And while I believe there are absolutes – established in the Word of God – I believe that these absolutes are about our attitude as well as our actions. We should not dilute nor should we silence the truth of the gospel at any point, but neither should people be caused to stumble over our self-righteous attitudes as we share it. My desire and aim is to live in obedience to the scripture and to do so “… with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” I am praying to see continued growth in my life as I consider the intent/impact dynamic in myself and on others.
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had …