Mixed Messages

for the week of November 13, 2000
by Rubel Shelly

An advertising agency in Charlotte, North Carolina, made a mistake during the recent presidential campaign. The result was a billboard that showed a smiling photo of George W. Bush and proclaimed "Gore 2000."

BillboardA spokesman for the company said the blooper was discovered on Friday afternoon, too late to get a crew to change it before the following Monday. So thousands of motorists along I-485 were doing double-takes between October 20 and 23.

Some voters might say the sign could stand as a memorial to a campaign that ended as a cliffhanger without modern precedent. The candidates gave mixed messages during their race for America's highest office. The garbled outcome to the contest resulted in a conflict between popular vote and Electoral College totals - complete with street demonstrations and court challenges.

The truth is, however that most of us are guilty of giving mixed messages on occasion. Some people are more than happy to accept a paycheck who nevertheless make it clear that they don't want to accept responsibility in the workplace. Is "It isn't in my job description" a good reason for refusing to pitch in to meet an important deadline or to complete a really significant project?

Others of us communicate mixed messages at home. We expect to get certain things and have our needs met. But what about paying attention to the other family members? Taking without giving back can be a fatal mixed message.

Church members have been known to complain about how others are doing (or not doing) certain things, without once stepping up to help. And all of us are sometimes hypocritical enough to judge in others the very things we seem unable to see in our own behaviors.

The return on the mixed messages you send will be confused responses - from employees, mates, children, friends. So if you are getting results different from the ones you expect or want, be sure you are communicating company policy, family devotion, or Christian commitment clearly yourself.

Getting any weird reactions lately? Be sure your own message is clear.



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