When we spend a lot of time with a group of like minded individuals something funny happens, we all start sounding the same.
I think of the times when I was younger and I would pick up the phone to hear one of my aunts. They live in West Virginia, and have pretty heavy accents. Next thing you know I start noticing myself developing an accent just by talking on the phone. To this day I’ll still slip and use words like, “y’all”
Yet it’s not just with accents, this “phenomenon” even happens with words, more specifically the “language” we use when around the aforementioned groups.
In Christian circles we tend use certain phrases, words, and even jokes only Christians would really understand. We call it “Christian-ese”.
The same situation also happens for myself when talking fitness. I’ll soon find myself using terms and phrases only fitness enthusiasts will understand. I’ll even sarcastically use cliches such as, “feel the burn”.
There’s nothing wrong with speaking in such manners. There is nothing wrong with talking like this when the people around us understand what we are saying. The problem arises when we try to communicate with people outside of these circles.
In college, I had a group of friends and just for fun we would call each other dawg. Well it got to the point, we would do so and it would just be natural. Then there was that fateful day that my mom made me breakfast one morning and I said, “Thanks dawg”. I think we all know this did not go over well.
While the above example is an extreme case, think about when we try to help people. I’ll often find myself working with clients and using terms like “tuck your pelvis”. Well unless they’ve been working with me for a while I find they’ll usually stare at me like a confused puppy.
The same goes when I’m hanging out with fellow Christians. Sometimes we’ll say something or do something and I can’t help but wonder what this would feel like to someone who maybe didn’t grow up with a church background.
If all I do is speak in these “different languages” I soon run into significant roadblocks. The people I’m trying to help, don’t understand what I’m saying, and as a result I struggle to help them.
Another issue I run into is trying to explain something to others without them feeling like I consider them dumb. I loathe the often used phrase “dumb it down”. There is no respect for the person we are talking to when we use such words.
When we communicate to people not involved in our regular circles it’s not about dumbing it down. It’s about speaking in a way that is relatable to the other person. We ought to communicate clearly the point we are trying to make using language others understand. The people who do this the best are the ones that will reach and affect the most people.
Truth is; if we don’t take the time to step off our high horse of what we know people aren’t actually going to listen to us. If we want to reach and help people with our knowledge we can’t assume they’ll know what we are saying. We need to meet them where they are at.
Of course the worst thing you can do before explaining something to someone is say, “I’m going to dumb it down for you”. Unless your purpose is to sound like an absolute prude. Then mission accomplished.