Most church conflict results from poor communication. Even your best ideas, plans, or suggestions are worthless if you can’t communicate them effectively. Remember, communication is not automatic. Just because someone hears you say something doesn’t mean they’re really listening.
Fortunately, there are seven skills you can develop that will guarantee people will listen when you speak. Just follow these guidelines from the Bible:
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME! Timing is the first key. You may be ready to talk, but are they ready to listen? Never drop a bomb! “There is a right time and a right way to do everything.” Eccl. 8:6 (GN)
- PLAN YOUR PRESENTATION. Think it through first. Especially plan your introduction and your supporting illustrations. Don’t start with the detail. In TV they move from the long shot to the medium shot to the close up. “Intelligent people think before they speak. What they say is then more persuasive.” Prov. 16:23 (GN)
- BEGIN WITH HIS OR HER NEEDS. A listener is always asking “Why should I listen to this?” and “How will it benefit me?” If you answer those two questions up front, you will have their undivided attention. “Speak only…according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Eph. 4:29
- LISTEN FIRST! We get into trouble when we make assumptions. Be willing to hear the other side out first. “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” James 1:19
- SAY IT POSITIVELY. No one likes to hear bad news. Learn to be both realistic and optimistic at the same time. You are never persuasive when you are abrasive! If you have bad news, say it up front in a factual, non-personal way. Then quickly move into a constructive mode. “The mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.” Prov. 16:21 (GN)
- CLARIFY YOUR CONCLUSIONS. Summarize and recap what you’ve said. Be specific. Restate what you’ve decided on and what you haven’t. “Agree with each other in the Lord.” Phil. 4:2b
- END WITH AN ENCOURAGING WORD. Exit lines are important. Even if the discussion was heated and you both took some heavy shots of criticism try to end on a high note. “A word of encouragement does wonders!” Prov. 12:15 (LB)
Try these principles out this week!