The wonderful Brooklyn Lindsey is not messing around! Time to stop loosing friends over emails that don’t make sense. Take her advice on handling conflict.
It’s that email from a parent.
It’s the thing that was mentioned to another ministry leader but not to you.
It’s the feeling you get after you’ve had an intense discussion about whether or not the high school pastor should get a tattoo or wear a beard. Side note: I have a strong belief that it’s not appropriate for me to grow a beard.
It’s the stuff that ministry is made of, because we’re super-complex humans, and we’re all learning how to communicate.
There’s a lot to say on this subject but lets look at our inboxes first.
It’s often the first place you’ll find passive aggressive confrontation and full on “I’m ticked and want you to know it” confrontation, so let’s just Barney Fife this business and learn how to nip email conflict in the bud.
First, when you get an email voicing “concerns” about something that you are directly responsible for, respond to it. Don’t leave it dangling for it to fester in the email graveyard. Don’t get defensive. Relax, receive what has been said and listen for the motivation of the message.
Then, make a note or tell Siri to remind you. DECIDE TO RESPOND. I wish ignoring things made them cease to exist. But the pile of boxes in my dining room is proof that it doesn’t work. Awesome adult move #1, respond to others (other people, as you know, are worth it).
Next, think about HOW you want to respond. Try to put yourself in the sender’s shoes.
There are some people who are good with an email reply back. They can see through the words on the page to the emotion on my face, they forgive me for speaking in #pointlessemailhashtags, they know that I really do care.
But most will need something more personal if they’ve taken the time to email you about something that they’re concerned about.
Leave a voicemail.
Text a hello and let them know that you’d like to talk.
Connect on a more compassionate level where grace can be given.
I like calling someone who seems to be upset with me.
I know, I’m a sick puppy, but I really don’t mind calling someone and letting them know that I care about their concerns and value their opinions. Most of the time, I find out that the sender has gone through some things recently. There may have been a death in the family, a divorce, a loss of job, some unclear work expectations, a headache that won’t go away, their 2-year-old is giving them fits, they have a college student, the newborn isn’t sleeping through the night, or their neighbor is obsessed with practicing their duck call at 2AM.
Acknowledge their worth; then gently push forward to storm through to the concerns. I’m not afraid of the storming part anymore. It helps us grow, strengthens our community, our friendships, and ultimately helps us to trust each other.
Look at your inbox. Is there something that needs to be dealt with?
Lean into the wisdom you’ve learned over the years, pray for peace, and have that conversation. You’ll be glad you did.
Love you guys,
*You can get Brooklyn’s perspective, as well as other women in youth ministry, every Thursday when you sign up for the SYM Today Newsletter!*