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When I was asked recently to provide an article about developing leaders regarding “Communicating Clearly,” I literally laughed out loud. If you have attended any of my workshops or retreats, it’s likely you’ve experienced my thirty second exercise on how to prove 100% that communication is NOT possible. With my deep underlying belief system (BS) established and fully disclosed here, we can proceed with some interesting best attempts and practices at communicating clearly.
I draw upon some experts at Healthy Congregations, Inc. and the decades of experience they have spent to: Develop / Train / Educate and Consult in growing thoughtful leaders for a stronger church.
To become a well-differentiated, mature leader, one has to accept the limits of human learning processes. We must also work to increase our own functioning through collaboration, innovation, resourcefulness, and create new ways of being in “old” relationships. This sounds easy enough; however, it proves very challenging at times, even for the wisest among us.
When stress and anxiety are elevated, functioning decreases and with it, thinking, reasoning, discernment, listening, the ability to look at self and to create another option. Imaginative capacities decrease and we most often resort to our default positions, and the ways and means that polarize our positions.
Focusing on one’s own functioning, while staying connected to others in purposeful, thoughtfu,l and broader ways, can indeed go a long way in communicating more clearly.
Here are a few correlations, followed by a long comprehensive list of “how to”:
Example: Will you please ensure the front door is locked before leaving the building?
Literal: Will you please ensure the front door is locked before leaving the building?
Interpreted: She doesn’t trust me. She thinks I’m dumb, irresponsible, and incompetent. He’s bossy, controlling and micro managing.
Respond vs. React
Example: Please set the alarm clock in the future.
Reaction: You’ve triggered my learned helplessness. You’ve triggered my wounded young child. You’re demonizing me. You’re not seeing my divinity and Christ-like nature. You’re unaware of my great intentions to set the clock.
Response: How did my not setting the clock affect you? I’m sincerely sorry and regret it. What would make this right with you?
Response: What alternate approach do we need for the alarms that would ease this? What’s a better idea that works for both of us?
Keep a clear distinction between facts and feelings.
Example: He’s mad at me vs. he’s mad.
I’m broke vs. I have $35 in the bank.
You abused me vs. you yelled in my presence.
Listen literally vs. overtalking
Practices: Wait to hear a question from them before speaking. Speak only to the question without adding more.
Do not mistake a monologue for dialogue.
People are often looking for, or expecting, a space for a ten minute rant or vent session. Notice they are not stopping. There is no room for your comments, insights, and great wisdom. Stop trying to make room where there is none (then wondering why you’re exhausted).
Speak honestly even when it’s scary.
Give an honest yes or no instead of pretending, lying, making excuses, explaining, or seeking approval from others, but only if you want others to be honest with you.
Clearer Communication PracticesNote to user – these tools only work when applied.
Adapted by Rev. Dr. Martha Creek from Healthy Congregations materials with permission.
One thing for sure, there is “grounded hope” here. With faith, we go deeper into these practices and apply them for our own sake, whether “they” do or do not. Clear communications make for an easier way. My liberation and freedom hinges on my application. Practice makes… Progress.
Join me for an Immersion into these practices or to retreat, to renew and revitalize your heart, mind, body: www.marthacreek.com for places and purpose.
With love and great faith in practice.
P.S. Momma is stable and recently had the best three weeks since she got sick in February. I have many opportunities to practice presence as I assist and learn. We so appreciate your love, care, cards, prayers, flowers and support. Sending two bouquets especially for you grown in her garden; some bubbles and green beans too. May you be aware of the miracle of life. Now and always. Love, Martha and Momma and Spidey too.
“Communication is an art, not a science.”
Join Martha at any of these open events: www.marthacreek.com#calendar