Summary: The real problem was failing to first understand the presuppositional perspectives of the people before the outsiders conducted their experiment. Speakers need to understand their audience’s assumptions before they can expect solid receptivity. This invol
UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION ASSUMPTIONS
Case Study - To successfully understand the presuppositions of people you must know what values they hold at their sub-conscious level. Several years ago agricultural experts from the U.S. taught men in Transkei, South Africa, how to use modern fertilizer. However, soon the Transkei farmers complained that the Americans were exploiting them, did not care about their feelings, and were trying to oppress them.
Why did the farmers react with such anger? Apparently, the Transkei farmers considered that the experts had bewitched all of the neighboring farms. They assumed that because the only farms that prospered that year were the farms that used fertilizers, the other farms must have been cursed by foreign spirits. Consequently, the people in that area have refused the use of fertilizer of any kind. (Smith p. 45)
The American agricultural experts failed to understand the farmers’ presuppositions about witches. The penalty for being a witch was death in Transkei so no one wanted to be accused of having a successful crop while their neighbors had a poor harvest. The farmers assumed that only evil witches could have such power to give one farmer prosperity while his neighbor lived in poverty.
The real problem was failing to first understand the presuppositional perspectives of the people before the outsiders conducted their experiment. Speakers need to understand their audience’s assumptions before they can expect solid receptivity. This involves listening, observing, reading, and asking lots of questions of the people you are going to minister to.
Remember communication means involvement
1. Communication is what is heard, not only what is said.
Illustration: One Pastor in Cross Rivers State in Nigeria assumed that the people were hearing him correctly when he served holy communion saying, ``This is my blood which was given for you do this in remembrance of me.’’ However, some of the people in the audience thought that he was saying, ``I have sacrificed my blood as an offering for your sins and I will soon require you to give your blood for the sins of others.’’ It was a real surprise when the people tried to poison the Pastor’s children because they wanted to force him out of their area.
Let us learn how to make the effect of communication be the guide rather than simply our intents.
2. Clarify the goals of your communication before you begin. This will increase the possibility of effective communication by declaring your intentions up front.
Application: Purpose determines the content of your message. If people know what your original direction is they will be more apt to grasp the full scope and depth of your communication. This does not excuse you from mastering the content of your message, but it puts emphasis on the first five sentences in your message.
Application: Goals should be well thought through, directed, goal-oriented, and containing your thesis statement.
3. Learn how to communication change as an insider rather than as an outsider. Avoid destructive communication by alienating certain group members with your message. Direct your communication to the key change agents in the group who will be able to implement the changes long after you are gone.
Application: The ultimate effect of your communication will be determined by the change agents who have embraced your message.
4. Occasionally your communication can work as an injection against disease. When one gets an injection from a physician it can be for either preventative or curative value. In the same way some messages can serve the purpose of helping people avoid or solve their problems.
Sometimes the patient does not need to understand all of the means of prevention or cure, yet he can still enjoy its benefits. Tell people the right thing to do, even demonstrate and teach how to follow the better way.
Application: You will be delighted at how many people are eagerly looking for some kind of spiritual injection of faith, hope, love, or truth for their particular problem.
5. Learn to use sponsors when you are a new communicator. Perhaps you are a new speaker who is unfamiliar with the people you are speaking to. Ask God for sponsors who can vouch for your credibility.
Application: Ask several recognized authorities if they will attest to your background, faithfulness, and veracity. Usually you should pick someone who knows you and is willing to introduce you to his people and their activities. Be cautious about using marginal sponsors who are just on the edge of acceptability by his people. The sponsor must be someone who is firmly part of the new sub-culture, accepted by the authorities in his area, and able to communicate effectively with the people in language.
6. Communication works best when you are able to share time, talents, money, abilities, ideas, feelings, goals, attitudes, and your family with the people whom you are communicating.