Connect, Lead, Equip: The Art of Effective Christian Leadership Communication
“The Art of Communication is the Language of Leadership” – James Humes1
Remember the game called, “telephone?” You stand in a line or in a circle and one person whispers into the next person’s ear. The pattern travels down the line. In the end, you see how close the phrase is to the original words spoken. How often is it accurate? It seems the result hardly ever is correct! There was a gameshow with a similar principle. People had on big headphones so the receiver could not hear and they had to decipher communication using lip reading. It was humorous that the individuals who were speaking continued to talk louder and even yell in order to communicate. But the receiver could not hear!
These simple, fun games are examples of the importance of effective communication. Below are four communication skills for consideration.
4 Important Reminders of Effective Christian Leadership Communication:
- Communication is Two-Way –
It involves a sender and a receiver. This may at first seem basic, but in actuality it is not. The sender is responsible for message delivery. What is your tone? How clear is your message? Do you know your audience? Are you communicating in a fashion they will hear? Be aware of the nonverbal responses from the receiver as this will clue you in as to whether or not your delivery needs to change. The receiver is responsible for listening. Are you listening to understand or listening to reply? Do you hear what the sender is truly saying or are your interpretations getting in the way?
- Communication May Have Roadblocks –
Roadblocks typically halt communication effectiveness. They are responses by either the sender or receiver that are high risk because they interfere with the accuracy and intentions of the message being communicated. These roadblocks are usually not conscious on the part of the communicator, yet their impact is profound. A few potential roadblocks are that we assume the person knows what we are talking about or how we are feeling, we overreact or become defensive, we are not clear in how we are communicating, or we don’t listen well. Each of these roadblocks can be overcome if we are aware and intentionally work toward improving our communication skills.
- Communication Requires Active Listening –
Active listening is a skill that is learned, tailored, and developed continually. It involves a choice to listen and understand what the person is saying. It includes patience, a nonjudgmental stance, and space for processing. When active listening takes place, you can see it in both verbal and nonverbal ways such as making eye contact, a pleasant facial expression, slightly forward tilted posture, and no distractedness. You may reflect back to the person what you heard, ask questions for clarification, and summarize the content. These are just a few examples of what active listening involves.
- Communication requires flexibility –
If the message is not being delivered or heard accurately, we need to be flexible and change the way we are delivering it. Regardless of how loudly we may say it, if there are roadblocks, filters, or interpretations in the way, or if we don’t know the audience well enough, the message intended will not be heard. It is not about who is doing it right or wrong. Rather, it is about tuning in to the other person, taking responsibility for the delivery and the receiving of the message, and communicating effectively.
How well do you communicate? We all have areas in which we can improve. It’s not about being perfect but rather being willing to reflect and continue to improve the effectiveness of our communication.
- James Humes, “Communication Quotes,” BrainyQuote, accessed March 05, 2018, https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/communication.