Speak Up!

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Seek Commitment

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Perhaps you remember a serious conversation after which you felt
you’d accomplished something important and were moving in the right
direction…only to discover days or weeks later that you were
actually at a standstill and hadn’t accomplished anything.
Situations such as this often are the result of not setting up a
logical “next step.” As you conclude the conversation, consider
these questions.

• Do other people need to be informed or involved following the
initial meeting?

• Does everyone involved realize his or her part in the solution
or plan?

• Do you have buy-in from all the people involved?

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In situations you face, make certain you have consensus at the end
of the meeting or conversation regarding what’ll happen next.
Address any questions or concerns before you end the discussion,
and then follow up with an email outlining what you’ve decided, the
specific actions that need to happen, and who’ll own
them.

Be as organized in concluding the
discussion as you were in preparing for it. This effort will make
each meeting and encounter following the first more meaningful and
efficient, especially when you can look back on your action list to
review what’s been accomplished and what needs work. Seeking
commitment and ownership on the follow-through of your conversation
creates a sense of cohesion and understanding of the larger mission
at hand–and of people’s individual roles in fulfilling it.

Do the Recap

If a situation warrants it, report the conversation and subsequent
plan of action to your leader. It’s a matter of efficiency and
common courtesy to provide your leader with access to the important
matters you’ve discussed–and it’s important for you to convey how
you’ve attempted to address a situation. Take good notes for future
reference to minimize any questions or confusion down the line.
Recapping the conversation will help you to get a handle on what
happened, where you are, and where you’re heading.

Show Appreciation

Whenever you tackle a tough communication situation, take one
final step to complete your effective communication efforts:
Express your appreciation and affirmation of the person with a
thank you. A note, email, or simple verbal affirmation increases
your chances for positive communication and reaffirms that above
all, you value that person.

• • •

You have a lot of good to communicate. These communication
techniques will boost your effectiveness when it comes to tough
conversations, conflict, coaching, or problem-solving. Employ a
little forethought, planning, and intention-and you’re guaranteed
to have people’s ears.

Sophia Winter is the Sunday school teacher for third- and
fourth-graders at her church. She’s also the advertising director
for Children’s Ministry Magazine.

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