Do you ever feel that you haven’t responded well to a person or a situation? You know there was a better outcome that could have been achieved. Or do you feel frustrated that conversations often end in conflict when your intention was to bring breakthrough or positive change?
As a Pastor and Manager and through my Ontological Coaching training, there are a few strategies that I’ve learnt that may also help you to communicate effectively with others. There is potential for a marriage to be saved, a child to be parented magnificently and a workplace or community to be transformed…all through the way we communicate and use words!
Words are a tool to create and to get things done but most importantly they have the ability to shape people and relationships. We are social architects with our words, with the ability to build up or tear down.
Where is your headspace?
Often we go into a conversation thinking that we are “the holder of the truth”. Whilst we may have a degree of knowledge and understanding, potentially this is a harmful mindset and can alienate and invalidate people.
A more helpful way of thinking, is to see ourself as a “learner”. This is not only a great way of thinking for engaging in conversations, but life in general. Another word for this is “openness”. Are we open to learning why someone is behaving a certain way? Can we accept that others are different to us and different isn’t always wrong!
Are you listening?
One of the key factors in the breakdown in any relationship, be it personal or professional, is that one or more parties does not feel listened to, and if we do not feel listened to, we do not feel validated. Here are my top 3 tips for being a great listener:
- Listen to make meaning and to understand, not to formulate a reply.
- See listening as a way of expressing love and respect.
- Listen first, speak second.
How are you using your words?
"There is one who’s rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" Prov 12:18
Ouch! I’m sure we have all been on the receiving end of some of those sword thrusts… and perhaps we are still aching or limping because of them! We have an opportunity to be a company of stand-out women who use words wisely. Here are a few things to try:
- Ask questions instead of making statements – remember you want to learn. This helps avoid the trap of making assumptions. Asking a question also lessens the likelihood of a defensive response. Eg: “Did something happen to make you late?” rather than “It was very disrespectful of you to be late”.
- Clarify that what you have heard/interpreted is what the person actually meant. Reflect back for mutual understanding and clarity.
- Ask permission to offer advice, your own experience or pearls of wisdom.
- Avoid generalisations: Eg: “You are always disorganised”.
- Assume the best and season your words with grace.
Our desire is to be Jesus to our families, friends, workplace and world. We long to see lives transformed by His love and grace. Perhaps your next opportunity to do this is just one conversation away!
About Karen Mason
Karen, alongside her husband Rob, have pastored a C3 Church in Perth for the past 22 years. She also works as a Manager in the community health sector and is a qualified Ontological Life Coach. Her greatest accomplishment has been producing two amazing kids, Emily and Jake, and her passion is helping others be their best and discover their God-potential. In her spare time, Karen loves an early morning coffee and God-walk at her local beach.