Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Packers, Favre and Lessons About Communication

If you are sports fans you can't avoid it, and if you are a Packer's fan you can't help keeping an eye on the horrible dismantling of a relationship between the management of a big football franchise and their legendary quarterback. If you are neither, you may need a quick course to get you up to speed.
  • In March, Brett Favre (holder of almost every important quarterback record in the NFL) announced his retirement to the sports world with tears and emotion.
  • In late June he told Packers that he was getting the itch to play again and would like to come back.
  • The coach said it was too late and that the Packers had moved on.
  • It was leaked to the media that Favre wanted to come back but the Packer leadership was on vacation and would not make a statement.
  • The Packers formally announced that he couldn't come back except as a backup to a quarterback who had never started a game.
  • Favre went on Foxnews with Greta Van Susteren and divulged private conversations and basically called the Packer's General Manager a liar.
  • Favre asked the Packers to release him from the team so he could play elsewhere, but they refused.
  • The Packers charged Favre and the Vikings for tampering -- having conversations with Favre about coming to their team against league policy.
And on and on it has went...

Personally, I can see both sides of the affair. I want Favre back as a quarterback and I can understand why the Packers are "moving on."

Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette wrote an interesting article yesterday on the failure of communication. You can read the whole article here. He writes:

“I think there are so many lessons to learn from this,” McCarthy said. “I think the first aspect you have to look closely at is communication. Usually when you have problems and things get to the point that we’re in right now, it’s potentially a problem.”

That cuts to the heart of this matter, and it goes both ways. There are strong indications that weak communication led to this unpleasant, pending breakup.

To cite one telling example, Favre essentially called Thompson a liar in a national cable TV interview two weeks ago, yet in a pair of 45-minute telephone conversations between the two on Saturday, that topic never came up.

“I’ve never had a bad conversation with Brett,” Thompson said.

That’s not necessarily a positive thing. If neither side has the fortitude to address difficult issues, it’s not surprising their relationship is on the rocks.

Had Favre and Thompson been more forthcoming with each other, the controversy swirling around the team could have been avoided.
This is such a good example of what happens among people in all areas of life including the family and church.

Here are a few lessons that I see that relate to me, the church and communication in general:

  1. Don't avoid conflict (see the final paragraph of the quote). Avoiding it only makes things worse. This doesn't mean you have to handle things aggressively, but being speaking the truth in love is important.
  2. Don't try to win a conflict by including third parties sounding boards or spokespersons. Favre should not have used the stage of Foxnews to tell his story if he wanted to truly work to resolve this conflict. It only made things worse.
  3. Get together and talk as much as possible and don't use indirect messengers. There has been too much indirect communication through the media, agents, office spokespersons, etc.
  4. When you make a mistake just admit it. I think Favre would have helped his cause greatly if he would have been honest about his mistake to retire. Instead he put the blame on the Packers who wanted a decision too soon.
  5. Avoid responding out of frustration and weigh your words carefully. Ted Thomson (Packers GM) should never had publicly (through the media) told Favre that he could come back but that he would be a backup. This was insulting. Even if it is true it is not a wise thing to say.
  6. Be willing to be humble enough and forgive. Both parties need to humble themselves and forgive one another. This doesn't mean that Favre should get his way, but it does mean that Thompson should let him play this year for some team (as horrible as that sounds to my Packer fan ears).

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 17:27-28 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. (28) Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man's mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

Proverbs 18:8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.

Proverbs 10:14 The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.

Proverbs 13:3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Proverbs 18:6 A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

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