Posted 5 years 189 days ago ago by Doug Lawrence 0 Comments
Here are four things to think about before you open your mouth...
1. See your role as important, but not more important than it really is!
I've often thought that the people I work with "just don't get it." We've probably all had this feeling from time to time. It's like a cancer! It spreads itself around quickly—others sense it from us—and ultimately it pulls us, and them, down. Is it arrogance that breeds this? Well, not always. Sometimes we DO know more than the people we work with, but often it's a defense mechanism on our part for feeling dismissed by those with whom we work. What we're really talking about here is the classic "don't fight on every bridge" wisdom. There will always be things that our experience and education give us an "edge" in handling, but many times we are just wrangling for position within our spheres of influence. Knowing the difference between these two extremes could save your credibility and establish you as an important contributor to the team.
Here's a test to take before opening your mouth to speak:
• Am I the best person in the room to speak on this issue?
• What's the worse thing that could happen if I don't speak at this point in the conversation?
• What's the best thing that could happen if I don't speak into this subject?
• Can I wait until everyone has weighed in before voicing my opinion?
Note: Years ago when I used to carry a calendar into every meeting (BiP—before iPhone) I had pasted on the inside cover the words, "Just Shut Up." It reminded me through the entire meeting that the better part of valor was probably my studied silence, at least until I was sure it was absolutely the right time for me to give my comments. Sometimes, I was actually able to pull it off! Knowing when to speak is almost as important as knowing what to speak.
Here are tried and true strategies for walking into a meeting with confidence that what you say will be received well by your colleagues:
• Do your homework! Know the subject matter of the meeting before you walk in the room. If possible, ask for an agenda one or two days prior to the meeting. Study the issues and have knowledgeable responses.
• Don't take a position of absolute rightness. Rather, start your sentences with something like, "I may not have all the facts in this matter, but it seems, from my perspective, that..."
• Have the grace to quickly back off your position if it is proven to be erroneous.
• Be grateful that your voice is being heard, but not apologetic that you got a chance to say something. There is a very careful balance in having your input received by others—walk it wisely.
• When you're absolutely right, try not to "body slam" people with your flawless argument.
Well you get the idea. It's great to know a lot, have a strong argument, and be decisive, but remember that your ability to be part
of a discussion is better than dominating it.
2. Be Fair, Be Firm, Be Fun—Barbara Woodhouse, Dog Trainer
I love this quote from Barbara Woodhouse. If it works with dogs, it should work in meetings!
First, be fair! There is not a requirement that someone has to win at a meeting. In all "fairness," many people will win a point, but everyone should feel like they contributed to the decision-making process. Would it be "fair" to assume that there might be more than one correct solution to a problem? Yes, of course! Sometimes multiple solutions can be found for a particularly nagging problem. In all "fairness" we should be able to rejoice when the whole team settles on a decision you didn't think of or comment upon.
Winning is fun at a baseball game, but it can be disastrous in a meeting where others feel belittled or demeaned by negative interactions. So, be careful and be fair!
Being firm is a two-edged sword. There is a time for firmness and a time for softness. There are two kinds of huggers in the world according to producer Norman Lear—wet and dry. A wet hugger can hardly wait to hug you. They stumble over themselves to get to where you are so that they can give you a comforting, exuberant, and heartfelt embrace. I tend to be a wet hugger. and though I try to be careful, I'm sure I've scared a lot of people to death with my need to be close. Dry huggers, on the other hand, will do anything to avoid being too close—eek!
Whichever kind you are, be aware that firmness is often viewed as stepping over personal boundaries and can be very damaging in a meeting where everyone's DNA is different. Somewhere between wet and dry is a good balance of communication. Test the waters before you come on too strong. Righteous indignation is probably the only place where absolute firmness is acceptable. Just make sure you're really righteous before you exercise it!
Try to be fun! It is always a good thing to inject a sense of humor into serious conversations. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean:
"I wish I could pay for the organ myself, but I think I'm too old to be an 'organ' donor.
"I would play drums myself, except I read music." (Please pardon my humor at your expense all you fabulous percussionists!)
"I love a good debate, but I wish I could do it without losing."
People will usually respond positively to a person who doesn't take themselves too seriously, but who does take the content of the conversation very seriously. Try to avoid being fun or funny all the time. It's a surefire way to turn people off—trust me, I've learned this the hard way more than once!
3. Angels Fly Because The Take Themselves Lightly
This is an old Irish proverb that we should try to live by every day. Humility is at the heart of servanthood. If we want to be servant leaders, we have to act accordingly. Leadership books suggest that people who are truly perceived to love the "company" exhibit a quality of humility that places the good of the whole above the needs of the individual. This wasn't always true, but when even television magazines start to talk about humility in business (see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4374722/), we need to take notice. Worship musicians are also often performers (it's almost always true), and, as such, we need to pay special attention to the persona we portray. The best and most respected performers in the world "take themselves lightly."
4. Live to Give Vision—Not Derive Praise From Having One
Most of the great leaders I've encountered over the years derive great pleasure from having and achieving their vision over time. They don't require instant gratification for their desire to bring change. Rather, they are willing to continue lengthy processes to accomplish their goals. This means that it may be a long time between having an idea and seeing it come to fruition. Ask anyone who has ever invented anything—it takes years to find success in the marketplace. Ask yourself these questions when you're trying to achieve a goal:
• Do I need to accomplish this task to make me look better?
• Do I have the church's best interests in mind?
• Could I live if I don't achieve my goal?
• Will everything else be fixed if I get my way?
Serving in a church and receiving praise for your accomplishments might happen. If it doesn't, however, your reward should come more from strength of character—not from getting everything you ask for or want.
Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of "deep trench" worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. has been a consultant to church leaders for 35 years and is anxious to be helpful to you in leadership, musical, and staffing considerations. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling.
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