We are not good at it. We will never be perfect at it. No matter how hard we try or how much we practice, we will never be 100% perfect at communication. It is one of the hardest things to master, or just put into practice in such a way that it is actually working and everyone is informed of things to come.
Here are some things that have helped me improve, even though I have a long way to go in this area.
WRITE IT DOWN—I always have a pad of paper next to me while I’m working at my desk. I always take a moleskin with me to every meeting so that I can stay engaged in the conversation and remember what was talked about when the meeting is over. When I’m done taking notes in the moleskin, I upload my notes to Evernote so that my desk doesn’t get cluttered.
BE HONEST—We need to say what we mean to say. I’m convinced that a lot of meetings or conversations leave so many people walking away wondering what it was actually all about. I think one of the main reasons is because no one shares honestly what they are thinking but rather shares what they think would be most encouraging. As pastors, we have a huge responsibility to lead the flock that God has entrusted to us in the direction that God would have us to go. That calling is huge. Because of that, we must remember that God’s vision for the ministry is larger than any one person or one person’s feelings. It doesn’t mean that we share honestly as a jerk, but we are to speak the truth in love.
LISTEN—I want to make sure that every person that I meet with walks away believing that I actually heard what they had to say because I was actually listening to them. So often I have been guilty of monopolizing the meetings rather than purposefully listening before speaking. I was especially guilty of this early on in my ministry. Now that I’ve had some time and experience under my belt, I’ve come to accept the fact that I am really not that impressive or necessary. It is more necessary that I listen to what is going on and then respond wisely than it is to constantly talk in a meeting because I actually believe that everyone wants to hear me.
DEAL WITH IT—When there is a miscommunication it is always better to respond as soon as you can rather than to leave it alone and let bitterness grow within you. If we neglect to deal with it, then nothing is gained as we move forward in what God has called us to do. The other side doesn’t know that they did anything wrong and we sit and get frustrated over something that the other side didn’t know that they did wrong. So we need to deal with things as they come up.
BE APPROPRIATE—Respond…don’t react. There are times where we will have to react to certain things because we are in the heat of the moment. But most of the time we have time on our side so that we can respond appropriately. It is so important for us that while we’re talking about a situation or discussing the topic that we do not allow our emotions to control the conversations but rather to be in control of our emotions so that there is actually a positive outcome at the conclusion of the conversation.
Of course there are many more tricks to helping us improve in communication. These are just a few that have helped me over the years.