Do we communicate meaning by what we include and exclude?

“It was very disgusting,” Newton said. “That’s as blunt as I can be. I could say other words as well. We went back on YouTube and looked at Cam Newton’s post game interviews. I was like “oh my God,” I see what people see. I see how people are viewing me. When they see this selfish player, or see this childish temper tantrum that I was throwing, I’m like “that’s why people look at me like that”

Those were comments Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, made in an interview with Laura Okmin of Fox Sports.

What does this image of Cam Newton Communicate?Something fascinating happens when we start listening to our own words. I hate listening to my own speeches. I used to think it was because of how I sounded. I now think it’s really more about being afraid of what I said. But when we listen to ourselves, we uncover what how we present ourselves to others. And we may even learn something about our belief system.

Language is a fascinating exploration into the mindset of a person. Listen to what they say, or sometimes even what they don’t say about a person or subject, and you will learn a lot about them. You can learn what they believe. You can learn what is important to them. You can uncover their credibility and character.

Recently, I read the personal account of a lady who went into a Christian bookstore. She was Catholic, and lives in Southern California where there is a large population of Catholics. As she walked through the bookstore, she asked about a Catholic-oriented bible. She was told they don’t keep those in stock.

That statement, and that policy, says something about how the Christian bookstore views Catholics. This action intimates that the bookstore doesn’t view Catholics and Catholic literature as “Christian.”

Language, including the lack of words, communicates a specific philosophical and ideological understanding of life, one that we may not even realize.

Why does this matter?

Because when we communicate, when we speak, we influence people. And how and what we communicate influences the belief system of others.

Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of The Gettysburg Address, one of the most important speeches in U.S. History. By not going to the ceremony celebrating this speech, President Obama communicated a message? What was he communicating?

The image I used for this post communicates a message as well. Can you interpret its meaning?

Q4U: How often do you work back through what you say to understand how you are conveying meaning?

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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