Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 25th December 2022
Dear Friends, Minding our Language “If we are to live with integrity, we need to be clear in our communication. Using precise language can be a part of our witness … Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 25th December 2022
Minding our Language
“If we are to live with integrity, we need to be clear in our communication. Using precise language can be a part of our witness to truth.
Fourteen years ago, I was involved in the development of a news magazine. While the publication never saw the light of day, the experience taught me a great deal about the way we communicate. As part of the process, we produced dummy editions and gave them to about a dozen members of the public to read in a focus group. It was a chastening experience.
My colleagues and I were given a bowl of peanuts and a drink and sat behind a two-way mirror as the participants first read and then discussed what we had written, And there were several points where what they understood was not what I had meant. By that time I’d been working as a journalist for 15 years and thought I wrote pretty well, but watching and listening as my words were misunderstood was an abrupt reminder that what we say is not necessarily what people hear. I couldn’t climb through the glass to put them right. It was no use pleading with them that it’s difficult to distil a complex story into a few short lines. There was absolutely no question that the fault lay with me, not with them.
The experience presents a vital lesson for people who want to stand up for truth. We must be clear in what we say and definitive in the way we say it. There are a range of perspectives in any conversation and we need to be alert to the ways they obscure meaning. There’s what I mean to say, what I actually say, what you hear and what you understand me to mean.”
Thomas Penny, ‘Kinder Ground’, the 2021 Swarthmore Lecture.
On behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (Bob Harwood, David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Theresa Samms, Nancy Wall)