speak to be heard

communication – one of the most important tools for efficient leadership. i continue to run into children’s leaders who are frustrated and confused as to why they are not being heard by their sr. leader, or volunteer team, or staff, or parents of children in the ministry – and this absolutely breaks my heart, because i believe that just a few small changes could dramatically increase the effectiveness of a leader’s ability to be heard. wikipedia defines the phrase “to be heard” as “to listen with favor.” i love that thought – when we speak, as leaders with a vision for children in our churches – we are listened to with favor.

first: identify your audience

as leaders, we communicate with a lot of people all day long. and different people require different styles of communication. as you enter each new conversation – ask yourself, “who is my audience now?” identify who you are in conversation with: your sr. leader, a volunteer, a parent, a collegue or staff member.

second: identify how your audience listens

by realizing how your audience listens – you can adjust/adapt your communication style so that you when you are communicating you are fully heard.  as a children’s director, i worked for a sr. pastor who listened to me by printing out my emails, writing his thoughts on the printed email paper, and then placing the paper in my mailbox. well – this wasn’t exactly my method of communicating – but i learned quickly that this was his language, and if i wanted to be heard, i needed to communicate with him in his language.  you can quickly identify the language of your audience by watching the way they respond to your emails, phone calls, texts, etc.. do they respond to your emails with a phone call? that’s a good indicator.

third: communicate directly to your audience

once you’ve idenitified your audience in a particular conversation and the way in which he/she communicates – you are ready to lead with strength by communicating well. be mindful of your body language, prepare well for each interaction, tell the truth so that you build a reputation as a trustworthy communicator, and always get to the point quickly – don’t babble or use extra words to make your point – be direct in order to make the listener’s job easier.

i love what robery mccloskey, an illustrator of children’s books has to say:

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”


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