Breakfast with Fred Leadership InstituteFred’s reputation as a communicator remains strong. Regularly we hear from those who say, “I heard Fred speak and what he said really stayed with me. He took a complex idea and made it comprehensible.” Fred likened his speaking style to passing a pot. “An idea needs a handle just like a pot does to successfully move it from one to another.” He used one-liners and illustrations to create this transfer tool. The website has hundreds of these one-liners in its leadership library.

Sincerity of Communication

When we really want to communicate we must accept our responsibility of using language the other understands.

Non-believers, for example, and particularly those with no Christian background hear much of our revered standard phrases as “pious babble.” Even our tone of voice can turn them off. Without thinking we affect the “seminary brogue” so widely that even when surfing the TV we can tell a sermon with just a word or two. In my day the Billy Graham style dominated most American pulpits. Of course, that has changed, but there is still a rhythm and tempo which identifies many preachers. Opening up clear communication requires we take an inventory of our vocabulary.

Using terms like “blessed hope” or “saved” mean so very much to those in the community of faith, especially the evangelical branch. Outside those circles they tend toward “deer in the head lights” expressions on faces. Using lingo is actually a form of laziness. Committing ourselves to effective communication requires discipline, integrity, and hard work.

We must have enough passion to communicate to motivate us to learn the language of the audience and use it meaningfully. Too often we get frustrated when another’s inability to understand us, rather than accepting the responsibility of being understandable. Have you ever seen an American in another culture try to get someone to understand English? Invariably they speak louder and louder, repeating over and over as if repetition and volume will create understanding.

Sincerity of communication must be a hallmark in any communication, but especially with those of Christian faith. And we must be careful not to use our assumed personal connectionwith God as a persuasion tool. When someone claims God as their personal source of knowledge and action, I am somewhat skeptical. When someone cannot give me sound thinking other than an emotional, “God told me,” I wait for more substance. Too often, the statements that follow prove hollow and even wrong.

One of my cardinal principles for communication is: Speak to express, not impress.

This week think about:

1) How can I achieve better communication at home, work, church?

2) Where am I lazy and fall back on lingo rather than enlarging my vocabulary?

3) What motivates me to express, not impress?

Words of Wisdom: “We speak to express, not impress.”

Wisdom from the Word: “The one who is wise in heart is called discerning, and kind speech increases persuasiveness.”  (Proverbs 16:21 NET Bible)

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