Today’s blog includes an excerpt of Practical Stuff for Pastors: Managing People. Remember, this resource is not just for pastors. If you are in any type of leadership, you’ll find many helpful (and very practical) tips throughout the book. Whether you keep it for yourself or give it as a gift, all you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment (on the blog or Facebook).
If anyone should know how to communicate well, it should be the church. Our central mission is to be witnesses and to tell the good news. Both require verbal and non-verbal communication. Yet, few places suffer from poor communication as does a local church. Gossip and rumors can run rampant. Misunderstanding and mix-ups occur often. Pastors and church leaders seek answers to communication queries, such as:
How can I help build open and honest communication—among staff, between staff and volunteers, and among staff and church family? What are the signs of brutal honesty and veiled suggestions, and how can I avoid each extreme?
Should I have an “open door” policy or strict office hours?
How to Avoid Gossip: Best Practices for Open, Honest Communication
As a pastor, you are in the people business. You have to talk with and about other people—a lot. Before you ask for advice about someone, ask God to lead you to a third person who is trustworthy and God-honoring, willing to tell you the truth and able to hold confidences. Communicating openly and honestly about someone is easier said than done, so here are some guidelines to keep your advice-seeking from slipping into gossip:
- If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it behind his or her back.
- If you wouldn’t want someone to hear you say it because of what they might think about you (or someone else), don’t say it.
- If it’s not the truth, is a stretch of the truth, or distorts the truth in any way, don’t say it.
- If it dishonors someone, including yourself, and especially God, don’t say it.
- If another person starts to lead your conversation into uncomfortable areas, set a good example of honest communication by using replies such as:
“I’m uncomfortable talking about that person without him being here to share his side of the story. Let’s figure out how to continue without what might end up being damaging gossip.”
“I’m not sure of the facts. I need to have a couple conversations with people before I can talk more about this.”
“Sometimes, my mouth gets ahead of my head. I need to take a deep breath and make sure I respond to you well. I will get back to you soon.” (Then, make sure you do.)
Excerpted from Practical Stuff for Pastors: Managing People. Copyright © 2015 Group Publishing, Inc. group.com
(This chapter includes additional sections on Authentic Communication, Brutal Honesty or Cautious Sensitivity?, Tips for Healthy Communication, and more. Other chapters in the book include When and How to Say No, Team Development, Meeting Management, Mentoring and Coaching, and more.)