The opportunity to communicate has increased a thousand fold in recent years. The power of the internet has made it possible to reach one individual at a time or thousands at one time. We live in a magnificent age.
Whether we communicate face to face or online, apparently the ability to communicate effectively has diminished. In a recent poll by Dan Jones & Associates, it was found that Utah based companies complained that people coming into the present workforce are lacking some serious skills, one being communication.
A common complaint was that companies are having to spend a lot of time and money training people in “sensitivities and cultures and how to do business.” My son, an attorney, has difficulty hiring front desk personnel that know how to communicate effectively. “Sometimes they are abrupt, blunt and discourteous without even recognizing it,” he said. It does not speak well of our education or culture.
Online communication has made it much easier to get away with “blunt and discourteous” communication. Perhaps online “bullying” has contributed to the face to face intimidation we are witnessing in our schools today.
No matter the mode used, ineffective communication stunts the opportunity to be heard or be considered a credible terminal for information.
Point of View
Beliefs are determined by our education and our experience. Beliefs form our point of view. Our views change as we learn and experience new things. Our view of life is “Our Truth” and may or may not be in line with anyone else, let alone eternal truths. We hold them dear.
We, spend a lot of time defending our point of view and trying to get others to change theirs. Various tactics of persuasion are used to give authority to our “Truths” such as polls, research, higher degree of education, the priesthood, the scriptures, the Ensign and “The Lord told me”. There is nothing wrong with this, however, some methods of communicating our message is more effective than others. The question is, does my method of communication “Work” to persuade or do I set myself up to be rejected and even persecuted?
Years ago I found this helpful model which helped me to understand how relationships work. It’s called the ARC triangle. The bottom corners of the pyramid are “Affinity” and “Reality.” The top of the pyramid is “Communication”. A break in any side of the triangle is a break in the relationship. If not handled, the relationship will suffer and may not last.
Affinity: closeness, harmony, bond, in accord. Do you like the person? Do you want to be near them, have a bond with them? Do they have affinity toward you?
Reality: actuality, truth, realism, real life. Do you see eye to eye? Are your beliefs and values the same? Is your view point on how to execute those values alike, compatible or at least workable?
Most relationship breaks comes within the “Reality” arena. Points of view have changed and are no longer compatible. The further apart your “Reality” is, the less “Affinity” you will feel for each other. You no longer want to be in the other persons presence because you don’t have anything in common.
Communication: When effective communication occurs, you have the opportunity come to understand the other person’s reality, or “point of view” and it make it a lot easier to be around each other. This does not mean you have to agree on everything. When the relationship allows for some differences and has mutual respect for variation of reality, the relationship has a better chance of lasting.
However, when we stand firmly in our ”Point of View”, with intent of making the other party “Wrong”, walls go up and we become the offensive party which forces defensive tactics by the other party and “War” begins. It seems that nothing brings out strong positions like politics and religion do. Look at the death and destruction that both of these topics have caused within the human family. Under certain circumstances, it may be wise to use caution and constraint when addressing these two issues.
Effective communication is “Wise” communication. It is knowing who your audience is and staying within a framework that does not “Shoot” others down by our actions, words, or tone before we have a change to persuade them to consider a new way of thinking about any subject.
Sometimes “Wise” communication is “No” communication. There are some people and organizations that will never see another view point. Often, it is because they have so much time and energy invested in it to concede.To even entertain different ideas would be too embarrassing, hurtful or literally cause their death.
Christ was the ultimate “Wise” person when it came to communication. He understood his audience and acted accordingly.
- In some groups, he spoke in parables. Those who had ears and hearts to hear would get the message. Those who were not ready or in tune would leave, perhaps a little confused, but no worse for wear.
With his enemies, he was discreet and answered questions with questions rather than cause open contention. His followers were always watching to see how He would handle sensitive subjects.
He gave credit where credit was due… giving recognition to Ceasar that which was Ceasar’s and that which was God’s to God. In other words, he acknowledged authority.
There were times when Christ did not speak or respond to his accusers. He knew their intent was to “Make Wrong” or entrap.This was especially true after his arrest. “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.” When confronted by Pilate, he did not speak. “And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.” He knew when it was futile to try and change hearts and minds.
However, in other groups, those who were like minded, such as his apostles and His people on the American continent, he was more direct and open, yet sensitive.
He was “The Master” in the way he taught and communicated. He was effective in each situation he was in, careful not to openly cause contention. He was a wise teacher. He understood the power of “Wise” communication.
We Have a Little Problem
This blog, as well as many others online, have a “Point of View” on the restoration of the gospel, how the gospel is taught, how scriptures are interpreted, and how the LDS church is managed, which often runs contrary to traditional thinking. These blogs have attracted many like minded people who desire to discuss gospel issues in light of new information and a new understanding of gospel matters.
Even though we seem to have much in common, there is often much contention when issues are discussed. The “I Am Right” attitude often disrupts meaningful dialogue. That is not to say that opposing points of view should not be discussed. It is more often the manner in which issues are discussed, not the subject matter.
So often, the “I Am Right” heels are firmly dug in and the war begins. In the end, everyone goes back to their corner, with no change of thought. This happens when persuasive methods, as taught in D&C 121 (persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, kindness, without hypocrisy), have not been applied. There often is a tendency to jump to verse 43: “Reproving betimes with sharpness…” assuming the Holy Ghost will uphold this strategy before all else has been tried.
There are times when the wise response is “No” response. It is best to let them have their way, especially when you know they want to contend or entrap.
Above all, we are guests of the blog owner and that should be respected. A sour tone may repel readers, and that is not fair.
Caution To Be Considered
Another caution should be considered. It is not appropriate to be combative in private territory, whether it is in a home, an LDS meeting house, temple, or privately owned grounds. They are not a place to openly oppose their beliefs, interpretation and standards, whether we believe their understanding is correct or not. By the nature of the LDS organization, we are not their advisers and they can run things any way they please. Like it or not, those who serve as officers in that organization have the duty to abide and defend the traditional standards whether we concur with the model or not. If they disagree, they should not be holding such positions because they represent the organization.
There may be unintended consequences in digging in our heals to defend our point of view. If we choose that course, one must be willing to risk rejection. The Corporate Church has a right to cut loose anyone they feel have views which are contrary or threaten their system. That is the nature of a corporation. Unfortunately, we have recently seen much fallout for those who have openly not seen eye to eye with the traditional thinking.
For example, whether one agrees with the “Ordain Women” cause or not, marching on Church property and appearing at the door of a traditionally held “Men Only” meeting was not the way to persuade, influence, or convince the Brethren of the validity of their mission.Their forceful approach did not work and their tactics turned against them. Now they spend much time “kicking against the pricks” still loudly defending their point of view. Are many still listening or care?
On the other hand, my personal opinion is, the Brethren did not handle the situation very well either. It may have been much more productive to have given Kate Kelly an audience with one of the Apostles rather than having their position related to her through a PR department. After all, the impetus for asking them to “Ask God” if women could received the priesthood came from a review of the Joseph Smith papers. Their public response to her appeared rude and disrespectful in light of her request.
Simply put, both sides dug in their “Point of View” heels and neither side faired very well in the end.
When comments or instructions are given in a class, one must examine intent. Is it to “Make Wrong” or to teach and inform? “Make Wrong” never works and care must be given when teaching others concepts which are contrary to traditional beliefs. Like Christ’s example, understanding your audience is paramount in knowing what technique of persuasion should be used and when to be quiet. Communication can be powerful if conducted wisely.
A Communication Blunder
About six months ago, I got caught using unsuccessful communication methods when I was “Defending my Point of View” on the subject of “Follow The Prophet.” My attempt to persuade a sister that we should “Follow Christ First” was anything but successful. It caused contention. Even though we are still friends, there is an element of discomfort when we see each other. My tactic simply did not “Work”.
Some time later, I found this photo on Facebook and sent it to a group of friends via e-mail.The title of the e-mail was, “What Is Wrong With This Picture.” There was no more dialog concerning the photo. Several did not respond at all, while four others did. “Sorry, I can’t see anything wrong”.
This was my reply: “Where is Christ? I have a concern that through this bulletin board, children may not understand that we “Follow Christ.” We listen to the wise counsel of our leaders as they point us to Christ, but we follow Christ first. Having Christ acknowledge first on the bulletin would have be more correct.
The response was positive and met with no resistance. “Oh my, you are right. I see it now.” Seeds were planted to think differently about the subject. When the issue comes up again, perhaps they will remember our dialog. My approach was much more successful the second time around.
This is certainly a subject I would not bring up in a class. By the very nature of the subject, it would cause contention and the chances of effectively changing any point of view would be practically nil. For this subject, a one on one conversation is probably more appropriate, but not in the Church building.
May We Do Likewise
Whether we are dealing with friends, co-workers, family or members of the LDS church, how we communicate is as important or more important than the message we are trying to deliver. Broken relationships are much harder to repair than to prevent a break by using good communication skills that “Work”.
When communicating, ask yourself… “What is the fruit of my “Point of View?” “Do I cause repeated contention?” Also, “Do I want it to “Work” or would I rather be “Right”.
Christ is our example for using all of the qualities of influence as described in D&C 121: 40-46 and in other scriptures.
May we do likewise.