Do you bring clarity to your situation?
We all speak in code. It just happens when we become familiar, feel accepted, and develop our own little culture. Each setting, if observed closely, has a language and a set of mannerisms, and that brings unwritten expectations of participants. The sooner you admit that you are part of a group and have your own language, the sooner you are able to understand ways to help others belong.
A language of its own can either bring alienation to others, or it can bring welcome.
When you know that someone else does not understand what you are saying or doing, you change how you communicate. You expect less of them. That sounds terrible if you say it out loud, but it is true. A person with whom you are familiar is subject to a form of familiarity bias. They know the language, so they should ask less questions, and just ‘know better’. A person who does not ‘know’, knows they are the alien in the mix.
This is where we get caught in a dangerous pattern. We have a code by which everyone should be deciphering messages. We have a way in which everyone should be following. We have a script by which people are supposed to operate. If they don’t, it is noticed, and can produce a healthy sense of what it means to belong in community. Or, it is noticed, and people stop asking questions and worry about fitting in.
True clarity comes through knowing the language and expecting people will know less. This way, we help others and create a welcome setting.
Three terms that come to mind, from one of Jesus’ teaching moments with his people in the Bible, help me in remembering my need to invite people into the community: (Think ASK)
Ask – Ask questions and make needs known. How easy is it for someone to ask for better understanding? It could be the easiest thing in the world, but alienation makes it the most difficult. Ask of others, ask for understanding.
Seek – Do you know when someone is missing? Do you know what they are missing? Seek the other person out, but also seek to know their starting point. If you expect them to be at a starting point, you will miss them.
Knock – Pretend that every conversation is a door that needs to be opened. Then knock. If a person is closing off or has separated themselves from the conversation, knock at the door. Help to find a clear path to understanding, and make sure they know you are present and available.
Clarity makes for a better conversation, and can alleviate many of the conflicts that grow around us. So how do you help bring clarity to your setting?
How do you define your purpose?
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