Direct Communication Works Best

You probably know church members who neither ask for what they want nor clearly state their opinions, but rather slip in backhanded comments and complaints.

“Would have been nice to have added some new songs to our list,” they sigh.

Such people don’t get their preferences addressed because they do not ask for or state what they want!

On the other hand, you also know those folks who dominate conversations with a non-stop verbal stream of their own preferences while putting down, dismissing, and discounting the view of others. They may be dominating or harsh in their tone.

These folks are more likely to get their way, yet at the expense of putting others off, since many will not directly confront them and may choose to avoid them.

The big question, though, is to what extent are you passive or aggressive in your communication with others?

As a Christian leader, seek to practice the third alternative: direct communication. Balance listening to the perspectives and views of others while also asserting your own needs, wants, beliefs, and perspectives.

The world-famous Mayo Clinic, in an on-line article, states, “Being assertive can also help boost your self-esteem and earn others' respect. This can help with stress management, especially if you tend to take on too many responsibilities because you have a hard time saying no.”

The same article suggests seven practices to develop a more assertive communication style. Here they are with a few of my explanatory comments.

  • Assess your style. In other words, be honest with yourself. Do you typically use a passive, aggressive or an assertive style?
     
  • Use 'I' statements. It is better to state “I do not see things that way” rather than “You are wrong.”
     
  • Practice saying no. Remember, you can say “no” in more than one way. For example, “No, I cannot do that now but maybe later” or “No, I cannot serve on the committee but I could do something less time consuming.” However, there are times to just say no!
     
  • Rehearse what you want to say. Literally practice making more assertive statements aloud.
     
  • Use body language. Make eye contact and demonstrate confident body language regardless of your inner emotional state.
     
  • Keep emotions in check. Don’t allow yourself to break down or blow up!
     
  • Start small. Practice assertiveness skills in low risk situations.

Assertiveness – it is speaking the truth in love. The Bible recommends it and people respect it!

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