The Misunderstood Pastor
“That’s not what I meant!”
Have you ever said that or thought that? I know you have, I certainly have. It’s frustrating to be misunderstood especially when it causes others to be hurt or offended.
Pastors are always talking. We talk from the podium. We talk at meetings. We talk when giving advice. We talk one on one. We talk before groups. We’re always talking, it’s what we do. And this isn’t necessarily bad (although we all could probably benefit from talking less) it’s just that the more you talk the more likely is it that you will be misunderstood.
There are a number of reasons why misunderstanding happens.
1. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because we haven’t taken the time to think through what we’re about to say.
2. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because people hear through their own particular filters and these filters can distort our original intent.
3. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because words can have a different meaning to different people.
4. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because our facial expression, body language, or tone, interfere with what we’re trying to say.
Here are four ways to reduce misunderstanding.
1. Think before you talk and ask yourself these two questions: 1) In what ways might what I’m about to say could be misunderstood? 2) Are there any ways in which what I’m about to say could be made more clear?
2. This will only work with the one-on-one communication, but ask the person to repeat back to you what they heard you say.
3. Pay attention to any facial expression, body language, or tone that might sabotage what it is that you are trying to say.
4. Don’t forget to ask the Father to help you become a better communicator.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Of all the different ways you communicate which one is most likely to be misunderstood?
2. When was the last time you were misunderstood and what could you have done differently?
3. Once you realize you have been misunderstood, what is the best way to correct it?
4. Is there anyone in your life currently that is misunderstanding you and what could you do about it?