Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What you say and what people hear may not be the same thing

One needs to be careful when speaking about controversial and sensitive issues, particularly in public.
Don’t assume that the hearers will receive your intended message.

Sometimes we are lazy listeners. We hear and interpret the message with respect to our own background, prejudices, and experience.
Sometimes we struggle to separate the message from the messenger.

Choose your words carefully. They sometimes mean different things to different people.
Creation, multiculturalism, evolution, liberal, fundamentalist, submission, modernism, literal, dogma…
Furthermore, I am not just talking about some narrow technical meaning, but rather positive or negative associations, depending on the audience.

Consider your social identity. It may colour whether your message can be received or considered credible.
For example, a university president has a salary of $1 million, yet tells students that due to financial pressures the university will no longer open the library on saturdays.
A white American pastor of an upper middle class congregration argues that Christians should not be concerned with poverty alleviation.

Whites making pronouncements about racism.
Men making pronouncements about sexual discrimination and harassment.
I am not saying it should not be done.
Just considerable caution, sensitivity, and realistic expectations are necessary.

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