Competing Messages

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Mike Wilson, one of the pastors at Centerpoint Church in Murrieta, California, woke up recently to find this in his front yard. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that a youth group was involved with this practical joke.

I love this picture, though, because we can learn several communications lessons from it.

  • Fairness cannot be a key value if clear communications is your goal. If we try to treat every message the same way, the important messages get lost in the noise.
  • Repeating important messages won’t help if there are too many competing messages. One more sign for the most important message won’t break through in this situation. You have to start eliminating the competing messages to get people’s attention.
  • “Getting louder” rarely makes for clearer communications. Our tendency is to “get louder” when our message isn’t being heard. A bigger, bolder, more creative sign won’t help in this situation. The only thing that will make a louder impact is to communicate less.
  • Good communications requires good leadership. The only way to remove competing messages in a healthy way is to have clarity of mission, vision, values and strategy. And, even with that, someone is going to get mad when you remove their sign. That’s part of good leadership. You have to make the right people mad.
  • The goal of communications isn’t to get attention–it’s to encourage the right response. Mike’s front yard ended up on the front page of the local newspaper. It got attention. But, I’m guessing that attention did very little for the propositions and candidates. Don’t judge your message on how often its heard–judge it based on how many people respond.

That said, we can all be thankful that the election signs are coming down. Even for a political junkie like me, I’m tired of the noise.

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About Author

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.

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