A lady recently answered a question in such a way that I was almost sure she was joking. I asked where the men’s room was and she replied, “you can go into the woods.”
The problem? I looked at her face to see if she had a wry smile. She was wearing a mask, which was required in her context, but I wasn’t absolutely certain she was joking. She was joking. I knew when she gave me the serious answer and said, “down the hall on your right.”
The words we use are only a small part off our communication. That was hit home to me several years ago with a staff member whose preferred method of communicating with me was texting. Texting is great to let someone know you’re running late, or if you’re in a meeting and need to get a quick message to someone. But if that’s your primary way of communicating, then you will wind up with misunderstandings, which I experienced.
Preachers and teachers have to remember this when preaching and teaching. The face and body are a big part of communication. We also have to keep this in mind in one on one communication as well. If you’re talking with someone and that individual turns away from you, there’s some hinderance in the communication process. Is the individual’s body showing an openness or is the body language closed to your message.
Even buildings and facilities communicate. You may have seen a church building that looks like a fortress, sometimes including fences with a closed gate. Other times, it’s a sign. “Keep out,” or “members only.”
I once served a church that had in its constitution that the building was for the use of members only. With my leadership I told them we needed to change that. They agreed. We had a gymnasium, which began to be used for outside groups including teachers and students from a nearby school. Our facility was used for voting. It communicated that our congregation wanted to connect with the community, and we cared for them. It helped us reach people.
We need to know our message so that we can communicate it, and we need to know the best way to communicate it without hindrance.
Ashton C. Smith, Certified Church Consultant