T.D. Jakes on How the Power of Your Words Can Change the World
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Drop the Mic – An emphatic and declarative gesture signifying the end of a performance.
-- Merriam-Webster's Dictionary
Effective communication is more important and vital than it has ever been before. In a world where it seems like every last person is striving to have their viewpoint heard, the ability to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas can be seen as ineffective, even volatile, if understanding is not achieved.
Bishop T.D. Jakes believes that actually connecting with who you are communicating with is essential to being understood and validated. Furthermore, words can be thrown around in conversation but until they find the common ground of understanding, they are rendered incomplete.
In his latest book, Don't Drop the Mic, the New York Times bestselling author draws from his own life experience to give readers a clear path and insight on how to communicate more effectively. He is quick to point out that anyone and everyone is a communicator. From giving a presentation to writing an email to conversing with a close friend or colleague, your words count.
"Don't Drop the Mic is for every person to orate and to articulate effectively, irrespective of your background,” Bishop Jakes said in a recent press conference with faith-based media. “I wrote it because I do not see myself as a master communicator. And I don't see myself as a bishop first or a pastor. I see myself as a person and I have been thrusted to so many worlds where I had to talk to small groups that made me uncomfortable because they were not groups that we had a lot in common with. They were groups that were necessary in order to create a platform to get things done. (To) succeed at anything, right down to buying a car, you can learn greater proficiency by being able to articulate your position.”
Despite his admission that he does not see himself as a superior communicator, Bishop Jakes has flourished in his role as CEO of TDJ Enterprises, a multi-faceted company that produces film, television, radio, music, and publishing projects. He is quick to point out that while each of these areas are varied and sometimes diverse, it all comes back to one thing … effectively communicating a message.
“Every platform has his own rules,” explains Bishop Jakes, who serves as founding pastor of The Potter’s House, in Dallas, Texas. “Learning the rules and the language of each platform is very important. If you think about it, we have far more stories that Jesus tells, which we call parables, than we do sermons that He preached. Stories are great mechanisms for teaching truths in a way that is not preaching at people, but still educating them. And that to me is a good use of my time in being able to do that.”
This has never been more evident than by how people communicate on social media. While this particular medium appears to be highly personal and empowering at the outset, there are some practical questions one should ask themselves before pressing the post button on their message. Bishop Jakes points out that your approach to crafting the message can be just as important as actually conveying it.
“When you're approaching a sensitive subject, a controversial subject, a subject where you have an opinion about, but you haven’t necessarily done your research on, I think it’s better to start a conversation with a trusted friend and almost use them as a focus group to make sure that you're looking at it holistically and not just narrowly through the lens of your own point of view,” Bishop Jakes emphasizes. “This is so that when you make a statement, it sheds light rather than generates heat. You just don’t throw raw ideas into the public domain and not expect tremendous splash-back.”
This has never been more evident than in recent days as related to highly volatile topics such as the coronavirus pandemic, the highly divided political landscape, and racially motivated civil unrest. While it is of critical importance to not shy away from these highly relevant, potentially volatile conversations, one should never remain silent on the issues.
Says Bishop Jakes, “When America started finally having a real conversation about race, it was quite inflamed, difficult, and awkward because most Americans are Christians in particular. They think that silence equates unity, but it's really just like a bad marriage where eroded communication doesn't mean that the people are happy in the relationship. As difficult as this conversation is, I think it's a critical conversation to have. I have gone out of my way to talk to several white pastors who have received backlash from the black community because of the way they phrased or said certain things.
And what I said to them at every turn is keep talking. Don't withdraw into a shell, become silent and stop talking like a (punished) child. We must continue to communicate about this because it's not going to go away by us going back into our tribalism and our silos. We have to keep talking and get it right.”
In its truest essence, Don’t Drop the Mic can be seen as a guide on how to communicate more clearly and effectively as a means to build community. But one critical element that cannot be missed is the importance of listening. Without the ability to give one’s attention to another’s point of view is literally the equivalent of building impenetrable walls of misunderstanding.
“It is always interesting to me that if you lose your ability to hear, inadvertently, it will affect the way you speak,” Bishop Jakes shares. “I think that gives us a clue that great communicators are born, not just out of great thinkers, but great listeners. And though the book is about the ability to keep talking, it is just as much about listening because listening is the birthing table of wisdom. Listening is the place where answers are resolved. Most of us just want to be heard. And right now, what we're doing is we're talking, but we're not listening. We're just waiting on you to stop with your point so I can make my next one. If you finesse these moments with allowing people to have their dignity, even though we disagree, you will have a much better success rate.”
Watch Bishop T.D. Jakes Share the Inspiration for His Latest Book, Don't Drop the Mic:
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