“How” You Say It: Communication Climates

March 15, 2012

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and felt a tension that you couldn’t quite put into words? You approach a friend to talk and suddenly you realize that the person is entirely closed off to you. The two of you converse, but you feel that something is very wrong.

This feeling, according to Tim Muehlhoff, Associate Professor of Communication at Biola University, emerges because of the “communication climate” between the two of you. A communication climate is “the overarching sense of value and satisfaction individuals feel as they interact with each other.” It is the “weather” that swirls around two people as they communicate. It both reflects and affects the condition of their relationship.

Muehlhoff says that your communication climate will either help you or hurt you, whether or not you know it’s there. It will always be a factor in communication.

The old adage “it’s not what you say but how you say it” is very true. Add a touch of sarcasm to an otherwise thoughtful comment and it hurts. The communication climate overhead begins to fill with dark clouds and thunder.

Whether speaking in front of hundreds or sitting across the table from a friend, the way we communicate affects how we are understood. This is especially important when we’re communicating the message of the gospel. Though the message is true, our words may not be received based on how we say them. To that end Keynote hosts Comm Lab each year to help people grow in developing communication skills. Tim Muehlhoff and Tim Downs help lead the four days of Comm Lab, teaching and entertaining its participants. Those who attend receive individualized coaching, practical tips in communication and a chance to practice what they’ve learned. There’s still time to register for this year’s Comm Lab (March 27-30). To learn more, click here.

If you find the concept of communication climates interesting, you might enjoy reading Tim Muehlhoff’s book Marriage Forecasting, which is a practical guide to understanding the communication climate and how it affects all relationships.

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