Monday, September 17, 2012


When people gather together in Jesus' name it is usually a good thing.  People are usually blessed by getting to know each other.  But not always.  People can also get hurt in relationships, in several ways.  Christian Education guru Roberta Hestenes identified seven ways that communication can actually damage community.

  1. Gossip and false witness - Sharing ideas/opinions/news that damages reputations, effectiveness and self-esteem of others 
  1. Triangulation - avoidance of face-to-face, indirect communication, appeals to outside authority as referee, involving third parties before direct conversation.
  1. Withholding pertinent information - knowing important facts or realities but not volunteering information helpful to others, enjoying “insider secrets.”
  1. Using verbal or nonverbal speech to control - domineering, interrupting repeatedly, rudeness, loudness/anger, hostility, overtaking, not pausing or stopping, disruptive humor.
  1. Attacks or Accusations/Labeling - quick criticism or negative reactions, assumption of bad motives, undermining credibility, name-calling, nonverbal expressions or gestures that undermine speaker.
  1. Favoritism or Neglect/Indifference - affirming one or two people consistently more than others, not noticing or ignoring one or more of those present.
  1. Persistent Silence or Distracting Behaviors - habitual silence or prolonged withdrawal from participation, changing the subject prematurely, unfriendly stubbornness, inappropriate gestures or behaviors.
 With this list in hand, it's a good idea to:
1.  Review your own ways of relating.  Are you, as a leader, putting the unction in dysfunction?  Remember, the pace of the leader is the pace of the team.

2.  Review your team's behavior.  When you gather with your staff, is everyone on their best behavior?  Or is your team being sabotaged?  Think through your team with this list in mind.

3.  Review your groups.  Do they know what bad behavior looks like?  Maybe it's time to review the list.  Equipping sometimes means informing people of what doesn't work.

4.  Review the body.  Are there cancerous cells that are destroying your community?  If so, leaders see what needs to be done, and do what needs to be done.  Gently instruct, and if necessary, take action to protect your people from damage.

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