Speak Up!

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Plan Your Words

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You may feel so strongly about a particular situation that you
just know you’ll be able to state your case passionately,
intelligently, and with great specificity–if you only get the
right opportunity. Unfortunately, what often happens is that when
you actually do get that face-to-face opportunity, the conversation
implodes because you weren’t prepared.

Even if you don’t have a scheduled
conversation but know you want to address an issue with someone,
take time to organize your thoughts and the most critical pieces of
information you want to cover. You’ll be amazed at how much more
you accomplish in the conversation and at how others respond to
you. When you’re prepared going into any significant conversation
or meeting, you present yourself as a professional–not as someone
who lacks focus and insight. Adequate preparation also demonstrates
respect for others’ time and prevents the need to revisit the
conversation later because you forgot to cover items of
concern.

Stick to Facts

When you combine your passion for children’s ministry, your love
for children, and your desire to serve families to the best of your
ability, it’s easy to get caught by emotion–only to have the core
of what you’re conveying become lost. However, when you remain
focused on objective–rather than subjective–points, your
conversation will become solution-oriented rather than centered
around dealing with people’s feelings about the situation. When
you’re facts-oriented, you appear informed, capable, and more than
qualified to handle the situation. Plus, a facts-based approach
almost always relieves pressure and tension for everyone involved
in the conversation.

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An important takeaway here is this: One impulsive comment made in
an emotional moment can derail the conversation, the outcome, and
the relationships you have with those involved. You can’t take back
careless comments. So choose your words with care and thoughtful
purpose. Always check yourself by asking, Is what I’m about to
say based on facts or feelings? Am I attempting to solve the
problem or just emoting?

Choose Your Conversations
Just as important as handling a
conversation professionally is selecting which issues truly warrant
a conversation. How often do you take concerns and problems to
others? Are you constantly bringing this or that matter to your
leader’s attention? Or do you present yourself as someone who can
tackle most situations on your own? Leaders are there to support,
encourage, and mentor you, but even those with the best of
intentions often have time constraints and numerous
responsibilities tugging at their sleeves. So when you must have
face-to-face encounters, make sure they’re warranted and
necessary.

If you overwhelm your leader or teams with problems or issues too
often, you’ll risk losing your effectiveness and people will
eventually tune you out. Even worse, you may be viewed as a
complainer or someone incapable of problem solving if your
conversations are based on emotion and aren’t
solution-oriented.

Use “We” Language

Within the context of your ministry, keep your language centered
on your team. In other words, use “we” and “us” language, not
“they” and “them,” which insinuates an oppositional relationship.
Even when you’re working on a personal matter with parents
concerning a child, transition to language that makes you all a
single unit, striving to pull together for the greater good of the
child. Sensitive situations call for tact and prayerful
consideration of how you’ll use words to encourage and uplift
people in stressful or troubling situations. To impact a situation
for the better, employ “we” and “us” language to convey
support.

“We” language sets up a communication encounter that’s balanced
and equitable, rather than a scenario that marginalizes others. If
you hear yourself saying “me” and “you” rather than “we”
continually, realize that you’re using language that’ll close the
other person’s ears before the conversation ever really begins.
Your language choices set the stage for how others perceive your
motives and alignment with them. The most difficult and delicate
situations can actually result in building the strongest bonds if
you choose your words and reactions carefully.

     

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