Monday, May 4

Communicating with Restraint

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint ..."
Proverbs 17:27

Those of us who are called to ministry are in the "communication business" in one form or another. I speak in front of large and small groups a few times every week, plus spend a few hours talking with folks one-on-one. And being in the "communication business", I find myself observing communicators. What makes them effective? What are the obstacles to effective communication?

Though I could write a long time on this, I just wanted to mention some things that I have noticed in others (and in me):

1. It is easy for those who speak to groups on a regular basis to think that they always have to say something, ignoring James' admonition to be "quick to hear, slow to speak."

2. The more comfortable one becomes in speaking to groups, the easier it is to talk more. A beginning preacher may struggle to put together a 15 minute talk. But before long, he will be struggling to keep a talk under 40 minutes.

3. Often a longer talk masks imprecision of thought. We exchange precision of thought and clarity of speech for more words. Saying more doesn't always mean that someone knows more. It just may mean that they don't know what they want to say or what they are talking about!

In light of those things, here are a couple of websites that I've come to enjoy because their purpose is to encourage clarity of expression in a minimum of words. Both are exercises in clarity of thought and expression. The first is One Sentence. (I learned about this site from a tweet posted by @mrskutcher.) The other is Six Sentences.

Another form of creative communication is poetry. I have never been disciplined enough to be a poet and I marvel at those who are gifted and committed to the art form. Here is a poem recently posted by a campus ministry friend of mine - Jim Schmotzer of Bellingham, WA. We also share a common love for baseball.

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