Life, Hope & Truth

Social Communication 101: Inclusivity and Risk Taking

In this third and final post in this series, we address the importance of being inclusive, as well as stepping out of our comfort zones in social situations.

Social Communication 101: Inclusivity and Risk Taking
Does this situation sound familiar? Mr. Introvert enters the social gathering, looks around for a moment and then quietly goes to a seat in the corner and sits down. He thinks, “Why isn’t anyone coming to talk to me?” Meanwhile, Mr. Extrovert interrupts his conversation with his group of peers to stare at Mr. Introvert. He says, “Mr. Introvert is so socially awkward. If he wants to meet people and have a good time, he needs to get up and mingle.”

To which one do you relate more readily? More importantly, who is right? As you might have guessed from this series of blog posts, as well as this post’s title, the answer is, Hopefully you don’t relate to either, because they are both in need of an approach adjustment.

Whether you are more introverted or extroverted, the fact remains that situations like these occur regularly. But the Bible lets us know that it doesn’t have to be like this. Christian extroverts are called upon to be socially inclusive; and Christian introverts, to be social risk takers.

What are inclusivity and risk taking?

Inclusivity, or socially including others, can be described as not having a list of social requirements that must be met in order to associate with someone. Of course, we do not associate with others who can be defined as “evil company” that “corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33). However, most social distancing and exclusivity occurs because people are socially different—not necessarily “evil company.” Being inclusive is making an effort to include others who have different personalities, temperaments and interests. In other words, we strive to “become all things to all men” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Risk taking, on the other hand, is not to be compared with the negative aspect of the word risk associated with gambling. Social risk taking, as we’re considering it here, is forcing ourselves out of our social comfort zones in order to “esteem others better than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3). It is our effort to not force everyone to come to where we are socially, but to meet others’ efforts halfway.

Perspective taking: What might others be thinking if I don’t do this?

Here are some scriptures to consider that should change our perspective on how we interact with others in social situations.

  • Matthew 25:40: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” The most important perspective we have to keep in mind is God’s. God wants us to be inclusive of others, especially in social situations. He doesn’t want us to be selfish and apathetic when it comes to how we deal with others. 
  • 1 John 4:20: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” People being excluded from conversations and activities do not feel loved. Other people, who are forced to always initiate and make the invitations, can feel as though they are being used, not loved. However, including others and stepping out of our comfort zones when needed can show love.
  • 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Those unwilling to take any risk in social situations may well be exhibiting fear; whether it is in the form of social anxiety, fear of rejection or just inexperience in social situations leading to uncertainty. Those who practice social distancing might be showing fear as well, by not being willing to accept a change in their routine or peer group. (Cliques are an exclusivity trap that can easily ensnare many.)

Being inclusive is making an effort to include others who have different personalities, temperaments and interests.What should we do?

The Bible mentions that once we repent, are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, we can have a special unity. “By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). That means race, gender, temperament, personality, ethnicity and whether someone is an introvert or extrovert all become secondary because we are “all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Do we keep this principle in mind when we interact with others? Let’s ask some questions:

  1. Do we joke about others and call them “socially awkward”? Even if someone has noticeable difficulty with social situations, are we striving to be loving and caring individuals who go out of our way to include them—not making fun of them or ignoring them?
  2. Do we take pride in our temperaments to the point that we use them as excuses? We are not yellow pencils with the same personality; we are all different. However, God never intended for people to excuse ignoring His standard by pointing to their personality type. We all need to strive to practice God’s standards of communication.
  3. Is God involved in my social behavior? This question can be asked for all three topics covered in this series. If God is involved in our conversations, we will take turns and avoid self-centered domination. If we are striving to follow God’s instructions, we will use tact and gentleness in all we say. We will also be inclusive and step out of our comfort zone. Overcoming challenging situations promotes spiritual growth!

The Bible gives us many helpful hints to assist us in having successful communication. It’s up to us to use and apply them!

For further insight into biblical principles of communication, read our articles on “The Joys and Challenges of Communication.”

About the Author

Eddie and Shannon Foster

Eddie and Shannon Foster

Eddie (a school speech-language pathologist) and Shannon (a school counselor) Foster are members of the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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