COMMUNICATION IN THE FRATERNITY
The Rule: Article #23
Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue. Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the Constitutions.
Our Rule tells us that part of our commitment to the Secular Franciscan Order includes the responsibility to communicate with one another when there are problems. We also can avoid problems by learning how to communicate effectively with one another in good times and bad!
Our formation book, Catch Me a Rainbow, gives us a few guidelines for good communication:
“1. Do not presume that others can read your mind.
2. If you have a need, say so—to people who can help.
3. If you have been silent, don’t blame others for not helping.
4. If you share your need, don’t presume that others can immediately solve it. You and they may have to work at finding a solution.
5. Recognize the unfairness of blaming others when you have failed to communicate.
6. Recognize that a Franciscan fraternity is not clairvoyant. If you need their help, let them know. It would be a rarity if no help was forthcoming.
7. Don’t be ashamed to have needs. It’s part of being human.
8. Be responsive when others bring needs to you. If you can’t meet them, help the individual get the assistance he/she needs.”
Very often, the way we communicate affects the way people react to us.
· Choose your words wisely—try not to use “loaded” words that cause people to react inappropriately.
· Think before you speak.
· Be conscious of your tone of voice. The same sentence said two different ways gets a very different reaction!
· Be conscious of your body language. The look on our faces or the way we carry ourselves can make us appear compassionate or threatening.
The other side of communication is listening.
· Try to develop good listening skills.
· Listen without interrupting.
· Ask for clarification, if necessary.
· Try to keep an open mind to what the person is saying.
· Try not to get defensive if someone says something critical. Hear them out first!
True sharing and communication requires humility, patience and understanding of our brothers and sisters. As Franciscans, those are the qualities we strive for. Let us continue to practice and develop communication skills both with our brothers and sisters and with God.