Over at MMI, there’s a great article that details the following “7 Worst Communication Habits for Church Staff.” The seven no-no’s are taken directly from a leadership article on the CEO Refresher website, but Todd gives them practical application to the church.
- Contacting others only when you need something.
- Not following up, or closing the loop.
- Not returning telephone calls or email messages.
- Foregoing basic courtesy.
- Not listening.
- Telling lies.
- Spewing chronic negativity.
I think these seven are immensely helpful guides for all of us, whether church staff or not. We all need to improve our communication, especially in a church like ours were so much is organic rather than organized.
Using people instead of things
When you contact folks only when you need them, it sends out a negative message over time. Essentially you’re using people. I’ve always heard that you should use things, not people. It’s a sure indication of a task-driven mind if people are seen as a means to accomplish things. It’s so vital in today’s disconnected world to for me to learn how to honestly ask, “How are you doing?” and mean it. (See listening below.) Real, vibrant and loving communication means that I’ll slow down and begin to ask myself, “What does _____ need most to grow?” My communication with that person, then, should be tailored around how God might use me to encourage them to good works and spiritual growth.
Let us consider then how we can stimulate one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10.24)
The phone thing…
I cringed a little when I read #3 cause I can already hear the chorus of “Amen’s” emanating from those who know me.
I am not a phone person. In fact, I would rather play Solitaire on my phone before falling asleep at night than I would answer it. But that’s just it. I honestly try to return phone calls. Very often, I let 24-48 hours pass before I do so, but I really don’t intentionally not call someone back. However, in my defense (and probably yours too), if people don’t leave me a message, I hardly ever return a phone call just because my phone log shows that someone attempted to call me.
In addition, if I’m right in the middle of something, or talking to someone in person, I will rarely answer my phone. I just try not to let the phone be an interruption. Imagine how much it bothers you if you’re talking to someone in person and they keep answering their phone consistently. I think it’s rude. Occasionally, it’s fine, but don’t make a habit of it.
In short, my phone philosophy needs some work, partly because I see the phone more as a tool of communication rather than actually facilitating communication itself. It’s hard for me to focus on the phone; I do much better in person. I admire those of you who are able to do so.
I think this point is a huge one in our society today as well. It’s so important to fully engage someone when they’re talking. Try not to be thinking about what you’re going to say next. Simply listen. Give the person your full devotion and attention. Work hard to kill your sitcom-trained attention span. Don’t answer your phone. Don’t think about your grocery list. Be there. Fully present. Your full attention is one of the most vaulable things you can give to another person. You’ll be surprised how a couple of days of truly listening will help you get to know people better and improve your communication skills.
What do you think?
- Let me just open this up for your communication suggestions as well.
- I’ll also open myself up for your criticism. Grade me. I’m listening.