As teens enter, ask them to share a time when communication went wrong for them. Maybe autocorrect made them send the wrong text message or maybe they sent a message to the wrong person. Maybe when they were younger, they used a word without knowing what it meant. Share your own example too.
Communication fails happen to the best of us! We say what we don’t mean all the time! Even if we get the words right, sometimes we don’t communicate what we meant to. I’m going to give you a sentence. Let’s come up with as many ways as we can to say the sentence so that it communicates something different each time. For example, if I said “I love you” in a nice voice, that means something different than if I say “I love you?” as a question. It can mean something different still if I say it sarcastically.
Write the following sentences on the board, one at a time. If your class is meeting online, you can type these into a document while you share your screen. Once you’ve written a sentence, let your students say it with as many different inflections as possible.
- Where are you going?
- Are you going to wear that?
- I think you’re really smart.
- Well, ok then.
- What struck you about this activity? (Accept all reasonable answers. Some may say that it’s amazing how many different things one sentence can mean or be reminded how easily what they say can be misunderstood.)
- We had the benefit of seeing each other’s faces and hearing inflection in voices for this activity. What could happen if you texted someone one of those sentences? (It could be misunderstood very easily.)
Even when we’re trying to be kind and respectful, what we say can be hurtful if we’re not careful. That’s even more true when we’re not being careful about how our words might make others feel. The Bible has a lot to say about how our words impact others. Let’s take a look.