“Arrogance, aggression and cleverness are the major barriers to persuasion. But so is misreading the audience. Except for coercive persuasion, which some groups use to force their views on others, the audience controls the outcome of every argument” (Sire, 2006)
This quote from Why good arguments fail, by James W. Sire, I think carries a pivotal point to be considered when speaking with any Believer, Unbeliever or Customer. Consider this not just in a faith or business conversation context, but any conversation that involves making your point, a getting that point across clearly.
Many times the message is “lost in translation”.
In business, we speak in technical terms and the customer listens in a context in whatever they may be feeling that day. It could be technical (dealing with system issues), personal (home life not going well today), frustration (every customer has been a problem), or a business context, (volumes are down, hence profits are down, we need better marketing). This is an endless list.
In faith-based conversations, these mental blocks are the same but they could be more deeply rooted. Any presuppositions about the faith or church the receiver are probably completely unknown to the other party. Just as it is in a business context, it could be technical (the car would not start this morning), personal (home life not going well today), and frustration (why can’t I make any progress on my personal goals?)
You could be literally walking a conversational “mine-field” at this point and never know it. The point being that the receiver of your message could have substantial mental blocks stopping them from hearing your message or idea.
How can we deal with this?
- Read your customer/audience!
- Always speak with a servant’s heart! You want to serve the other person with love and respect!
Just as the quote above states, “the audience controls the outcome”. This is the same if you are speaking in regards to a business situation, a technical system situation, or discussing the life saving grace of Jesus.
As the scripture states in, 1 Corinthians 12:5 (NIV) “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” Always take a few moments to consider how to best frame the conversation you’re going to have, and remove any potential blocks they may have, thus increasing the percentage for a positive outcome.