A healthy congregation is one whose members cultivate a culture of direct communication while practicing deep listening and loving speech. In this way, language is used to open-up meaningrather than used to demean an idea or a person. It is not only about the words we use but who weaddress. Indirect communication, for example, can foster a culture of gossip, secrecy andsuspicion, which prevents us from achieving the goal of transparency.TransparencyOur seventh End reads, as members of First Unitarian Church “we apply transparency inour governance and ministry in order to build trust and to preserve the integrity of our democratic process.” Transparency is defined as appropriate openness and candor in the church’sdecision-making process. The ultimate purpose of transparency in governance and ministry is toensure that the members and leaders are well informed and better poised to participate in the lifeof the church. As leaders our intent is to, when reasonable, inspire all to share in decision-making and hold one another accountable for our shared ministries. We seek to contribute to aculture of confidence and mutual reliance, which renews the spirit of congregational polity. Asleaders, our goal is to contribute to a culture of confidence and mutual reliance, which renewsorganizational self-worth. We cultivate our collective self-esteem by having shared knowledgeabout who we are and where we are going. In doing so, we affirm that the ultimate responsibilityand authority of the organization rests with its members. In the context of communication,members and leaders of the church are accountable for the quality of exchanges between participants in the community. Here are some behavior patters that if addressed can help us builda community based on trust and respect.Indirect CommunicationThere is a distinction in how we "talk with" others versus how we "talk about" others. For instances, our friends, supporters and confidants play important roles in our lives. They help us process our information and give us advice. And yet sometimes conflicts can get out of handwhen those relationships inadvertently feed indirect communication by either triangulatingsituations or fuel misperceptions. And yet if approached mindfully, friends, supporters andconfidants can empower direct communication to help create the culture where conflicts, nomatter how small have the chance to be resolved.The practice of talk about others rather than approaching those related to the situation iscalled
. This behavior rewards gossip, which, as we know, typicallyinvolves details that are not confirmed as being true. This type of unmindful communicationfeeds misperceptions and undermines the effectiveness of a team. Moreover these patterns breeda culture of second-hand communication, anonymous feedback and triangulation.
results in comments like “he said,” or “they think,” or “some people believe.” Communities that use these phrases feed suspicion and secrecy.This can be not only harmful to the parties involved but also erode the integrity of the person using such phrases. To counter this behavior simply use “I” statements. Meaning,speak from the first-person and only represent your own opinion; try not to speak for or represent others. The goal is to model ways to share concerns with those directly relatedto the situation and choose not to accept the invitation to be triangulated.