I’ve seen this mistake happen too many times. Anyone and everyone is vulnerable.

Businesses. Non-profits. Churches. We can all fall into this trap.

It’s a mistake that is so obvious, so easy to avoid that you’d think by now, no one could ever be so stupid to let it happen, yet it does. 

I remember being in a meeting with someone. The meeting was wrapping up, I remember we were agreeing on the next steps forward. But everything inside of me was screaming that the other person wasn’t really happy. It was like they were saying one thing and sending me this subliminal ‘signal’ which was screaming the complete opposite. Fortunately I had a good relationship with this colleague and I felt comfortable enough to raise this with them. They admitted to me that they weren’t happy with where we were going.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they’ve sent you a conflicting signal that is completely at odds with what they are saying?

We all send signals when we interact with others. What someone might be talking about with you may be completely different to the other signals they are sending are sending you. You may know of some of the more obvious types with body language where you know exactly how people are feeling. For example, folding arms and legs means that you are closed or aggressive. Constant flicking of the hair, means that you are attracted to the person you are talking to. Holding your chin, or excessive blinking – can be a sign of someone lying.

It’s not just people who send out signals to those they are interacting with. Churches, non-profits and businesses also send out signals that can be totally incongruous with the actual message that they think they are communicating.

Here are some conflicting messages that churches for example can send out.

You may say ‘We’re not after your money.’ But you’ll ask you for it at least 3 times.

‘We’re here for you.’ But your staffing choices means doesn’t have anyone that can help someone on that day. Or when the staff person is talking to you they are constantly looking over your shoulder at people as they walk by and acknowledging them.

‘We are a community full of real people’. We only talk about issues you’ve probably never heard of.

‘No perfect people allowed’ But don’t stand out, look different, swear, smoke, drink beer, dress differently because you’ll get looks. We’ll make you feel so uncomfortable you’ll never want to come again.

‘Visitors welcome!’ Then be lambasted by a parking attendent because you parked in the wrong spot. (Yes, I’ve seen that)

One concept we all have to grasp is to live out who we say we are and not send conflicting signals to the very people we want to reach.

Your turn

Have you ever been on the receiving end or seen any examples of conflicting signals? Comment below.