Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

How to Confront in Love

October 30, 2009

That knot builds in the pit of your stomach.

You avoid thinking about the problem for days.  Finally, you avoid the person all together.

God has made it obvious to you that there is a problem and you are the person He want to confront your friend/loved one about it.

How can you confront someone in love?  Personally, I think there are several good models.  I happen to be reading Galatians this morning, and found a model I thought I’d share:

  1. Set a background – Paul spends the first 2 of six chapters setting up his confrontation.  A full third of the book.  He reminds them of his personal story.
  2. Confront succinctly – Very briefly, Paul states his frustration.
    1. Lead with a question – the majority of Paul’s confrontation is in the form of a question – “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?”
    2. Address the root – Paul spent the next chapter and a half assuring the Galatians that they were Children of Promise, and didn’t need to ‘earn their stripes.”  Interestingly, he doesn’t identify their feelings for them, he just addresses the root.
  3. Show them your personal concern – Although Paul comes on strong in the beginning, he now lets them know he cares for them, is concerned for their well-being, that he loves them.
  4. Remind them of your history – Paul reminds them of their shared history, of their personal relationship.
  5. Provide a healed vision for the future – Paul then paints a vision for the future in chapters 5 & 6.  These chapters might say “this is what victorious living looks like.”

In short:

  • Set the stage
  • Confront
  • Confirm  Relationship
  • Show Vision for a Positive Future

Telling someone things they don’t want to hear is never easy.

How do you know when you have to confront someone in love?  When it is the most loving thing to do.


Communication 101

August 31, 2009

The subtitle for this post is “Can you hear me now?”

Not long ago, I asked my youngest child to take her sisters’ folded clothes to their room.  Instead, somehow, she marshaled the troops, and within two minutes, had them both in my room, picking up their own laundry to put away.

Now I know very well that if I had hollered “come pick up your clothes,” they would have sat.  In fact, if I had asked her to ask them to come get their clothes, they would have sat.  However, since it had become her chore, she was now motivated to make sure it got done, and she motivated them.

Communication is a funny thing.  There are parts of the world where if  daughter has bad news, she never tells father, she tells some other family member, who tells father, and the details of how to solve the problem are all figured out without the daughter and father ever having to talk.

There are family systems where everyday communication uses meaner language than I would use with my worst enemy…and they are being loving!

However, across the board, there is a basic.  It is called the communication cycle.  The communication cycle looks like this:

  • Picture in my head
  • Goes through my brain matter and translators
  • Comes out my mouth
  • Goes through the air (and can get garbled via outside noise)
  • Goes in your ear
  • Goes through your brain matter and translators
  • Makes a picture in your head

The communication cycle isn’t complete until the picture in my head is the same as the picture in your head.  Here are some of the common places things go wrong:

  1. Never actually saying what is going on in your head (people can’t read your mind) – this is my most common fault btw.
  2. Only describing the picture in your head and not taking into account your audience’s translators (there is a reason that elementary school teachers teach every subject five different ways).
  3. Distractions – if you have your discussion in a place where there are too many distractions, others won’t hear you.
  4. Leaving the discussion “up in the air” and not trying to reassemble the picture in your listener’s head
  5. Not finishing the loop by providing a process of feedback to make sure the loop was complete.

Well, that’s my thing to work on for the week.  Gotta run!

I Don’t Like Them!

August 25, 2009
cat and mouse copy

(picture borrowed from somewhere on the net - it's been in my computer for years)

What happens when social rules clash?

If you brought a dynamic leader from 200BC forward to today, there would be a huge clash of culture.  Charisma draws its own audience, but the people of that era lived by entirely different social rules.  Some of the things that were loving and right for them are really wrong and down right evil to us.

Things aren’t always this traumatic.  They show up in much milder forms.  When my kids were little, I discovered that it was easy for them to break other families’ social rules.

Once, while at a friend’s house, one of my kids asked an adult they didn’t know what authority they had to tell them what to do.  In our house, that is a valid question.   We had taught our kids to assess the person giving directions before following them because not all the adults in their lives were, well, adult.  In the house where they were spending the night, children always obeyed every adult.

When people marry, they bring their love, hopes, dreams and two completely different sets of societal expectations.  The farther apart the societal expectations, the more work the relationship takes to form solidity.

You know, God knew all this to begin with.  Time travel is out, but in our world that is now so small, it is easy to see present-day cultures collide from differences in societal norms.

In Genesis 11, God confused the language of the people.  Why?  Because they had become obsessed with themselves and forgot to make Him part of the equation.

Along with different languages came different cultures, different interpretations of the right ‘rules’ to follow.  The only way to find sanity is to make Him the center.

Do you need help finding common ground in your relationships?  Do you have people in your life that just rub you the wrong way?

God is the answer.  If you put Him in the center and look to Him for answers, He will work on the other side of the equation.  You can’t change other people.  They have spent a lot of time and energy becoming who they are.  However, God knows them from the inside out.   He is inside their head and inside yours.  He can bridge that gap and make the communication work where it hasn’t before.

Relationships aren’t easy. In fact, they take a lot of work.  Sometimes, those that are closest to us take the most work.  Thankfully, God sent His Holy Spirit to help us, teach us and guide us.  We can count on Him to give us good answers and bridge those relationships.

Staying Flexible

July 13, 2009

Lately, I’ve been thinking about brain pathways.  This is how I view life, and our brain:

When we are learning, we are growing new brain pathways.  (I actually visualize little choo choos up in my brain creating new pathways.)  Once a brain pathway is created, we can use it, just like any highway in the world, traveling back and forth, making good use of the brain space.

When we have something new to learn, we have to create new brain pathways.  Sometimes this is easy.  We know we are learning a new skill because we have set out to do so.  Perhaps we sat down at the computer with a program we have never seen before… we walked into a martial arts class… etc.

Sometimes new situations look just like old ones, only our usual patterns of behavior, all the information at our disposal isn’t working.  We call this “hitting our head against a brick wall”.  In my journal, I said if feels like there is an obstruction in the brain pathway.  We are sure that someone or something is causing the problem.

It feels like there is just a big rock in the way, and if “x” would just happen, everything would be fine.

Perhaps God is just giving us an opportunity to grow and use more of our brain matter?

This scripture was in my devotions this morning:  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26)

A stony heart is one that refuses to change.  One that sees obstructions instead of opportunities to find new ways of looking at things.  A heart of flesh is one that is pliable and easy to work with – the little choo choos can plow away in that.

Notice that God is the one that gives us the new heart.  Do you have brain obstructions that need to be converted into opportunities?  I’ll be praying with you.

Four Places to Snag Conversations

May 11, 2009

Looking for places to grab information and conversations?

Here are some sights I hope you will enjoy:

Docstoc – educational documents online – for starters, check out their “most viewed” or “most downloaded” list. Fascinating!

Snagfilms – free documentaries – this is a great way to learn about cultures around the world from their own perspective.  Since we seem to be in a really slow TV season, this site is going to get more of my traffic I think.

Blogtalkradio – whether you want to listen to what others are saying, or create your own show, this is a cool site.  I’m taking you to some of my favorites right off the bat – IMN does some great interviews.

ScribbleLive – were you someone who always got other people’s notes from class?  This site is for you!  You can grab notes that people are taking – LIVE from whatever event they are at.  I LOVE this site!  I’ve been able to “attend” several conferences recently through this site.

I’d love to hear from you.  Where do you go to get your information on the web?

What YouTube Success Has To Do With Outreach

May 6, 2009

I saw on Twitter this morning “How you can succeed on YouTube.”

In a world where literally anyone can become an overnight sensation from the confines of their apartment, what does this mean to our models of outreach?

1.  People want to matter, and deep down, they know they should.

This is great news, because each person is vitally important to God.

2.  Mass marketing is out, viral marketing is in.

Nobody wants to be sold, but everybody wants to be “a part of”.  You need to become part of your community.  Become part of what matters to them, know them, at their heart, and reach them from there.

Also, there are modes of communication within a community that only insiders know.  In my last community, after working with the neighborhood association for 18 months, I discovered that many of the neighbors had developed listservs based on their interests.  These listservs were the real tools they used to spread important information throughout the neighborhood.

3.  People are information junkies, but highly intelligent and disseminating.

If you offer topical classes to speak to current concerns, make sure they are good.  People understand your bias, they walked into a church – don’t save your ‘talk’ for the last or they will skip that one.  Don’t insult their intelligence either.

4.  People want to know you care.

Your $5 Starbucks card as a thank-you-for-coming gift won’t mean nearly as much as a 5-10 minute phone call.  Call people.  Thank them for coming.  Ask how you can be praying for them.  Find out what is going on in their lives.  Walk with them and be with them.

5.  Since everybody is a video producer, make sure yours are top notch.

Use pictures, use graphics, and do it well.  There are so many great programs available online, and so people in their teens and twenties who are experts, there is really no excuse for mediocrity.  Check out this awesome video shown at Drive ’09: Inside Northpoint Media.

6.  Your neighborhood is full of lonely people who want to change the world.

Okay, this is my assumption because I live in Seattle right now.  I know my neighborhood is full of lonely people who want to change the world.  Now, I know two things that are only done well when God is involved:  World Change and Community.  Why not help people do what they want to do the best way possible?

Then, maybe you’ll make a YouTube video, and it will go viral.

5 Steps to Finding Your Personal Platform

May 4, 2009

dsc_0642One weekend at a writer’s conference = 242 references to branding and/or platform building.

(No, I didn’t actually count, but I’m pretty sure that’s close.)

The one thing I took away was a solidification of my own contribution to humanity.  My “platform”.

Here are five questions to ask yourself to help find your platform:

1.  What would I do for free, just because I love to do it?  This doesn’t include anything that you consume – this is something that you give away.

2.  What is an area of life that I study just for fun?  Do you take books or magazines on vacation? What are they on?  What books and periodicals are stacked in your bathroom, your car, your office? What is the primary focus of your bloglines feeds?

3.  If I could take one thing on a 9 hour plane ride, what would it be?

4.  What is my personality and what are my natural giftings?  Need help figuring this out?  Check out the “Know Yourself” section of my Squidoo page.

5.  When I’m with people, what’s the primary topic of conversation?   What conversations get you so jazzed that you consider postponing your next appointment just to finish?

Notice I didn’t ask once what your training was in?  The truth of the matter is that what you add to the world comes more from what you love than what you know.  No matter what you are trained in, you will naturally use it to enlighten what you love.

There is something that only you can add to the Conversation.  God made you unique.  Part of that creation is a burning passion mixed with your approach to information and your approach to the world.  Your platform, or what you have to say, comes from the bottom line message that God has given you.

Now, someone who is really on top of it is going to point out that we all (Christians) have the same platform: to speak the love of Jesus to those around us – and you are absolutely right.  However, we all do it from a unique perspective, and this is where personal platform comes in.  Paul used the analogy of the Body.  Are you a blood platelet or an arm… you get the picture.  Although we have the same meta-perspective, we each have a unique view within that which God uses to show His love and build His Body.

What has God given you a burning passion to say?

Brain Training

April 23, 2009

Did you know that you can change a bad day into a great day?

Your emotions are not just feelings.  They are the result of life, taken in through your senses, over the flowing rapids your body chemicals, and on up to the translators in your brain.

Your brain then sorts out the different information and triggers the right hormone responses to fear, love, joy, anger, etc.  Then it sends information back to your body parts, directing the appropriate actions – all in a matter of nano-seconds.

Okay – that is my interpretation, but essentially, that is what happens.

We take in information, decide what to do with it, and act on it.

We act with both our logical and emotional sides because we are people – not animals who act on instinct only, and not machines, who act on programming only.  We have this wonderful mix of soul (mind, will and emotions) and spirit (which can dig deeper and get help from God’s Spirit).

God transcends time and space.  Our bodies get sick, have bad days, get messed up by the weather changing, etc., God doesn’t change.  We can choose to not let our emotions have control.

Have you ever seen one of those pictures that are two pictures in one?  Like the one that is both an old woman and/or a young woman?  Changing our focus is like looking at that picture.

We can keep our eyes on the yuck of life, or we can look for God’s Spirit to give us His perspective.  We change where we get our information, so we change our response.

God’s joy doesn’t depend on circumstances.  Remember Paul and Silas singing in jail?  That was a bad situation – they got their joy, not from their emotions, but from God’s spirit.

This works no matter your situation.  How do you focus your vision on God’s Spirit?  Through the spiritual disciplines like prayer, bible reading/meditation and silence.  God used bible meditation to help me through a worrisome situation just this week.

Have you trained your brain today?

Marketing and Connections

April 22, 2009

Why do people connect with you?

I learned a very basic concept from playing the computer game SIMS several years ago.  It was a concept that I had somehow missed.  You make friends by spending time with people.  If you don’t spend time with people, you don’t make friends.

The book I read awhile back, “Divine Commodity” had challenged me to stop ‘marketing’, and instead to help people learn how to connect with others better.

In our fast-paced society, we have boiled some things down to their least common denominator, and sometimes, that comes out as marketing.  God tells us that we are to love one another.   When we are in relationship with Him, and when we are being the people He created us to be, we will be irresistible – (not the individual, tall, flowing blonde kind of irresistible), but because we will be presenting Christ.

So.  Why do people connect with you?

In short, people connect with you because you care about them.  Here are some ways that people connect with you:

1.  According to Chapman, there are five love languages:  Gifts, Time, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation and Touch.  In some way, you are helping them feel loved.

2.  They will identify with you: either your personality, your story, or your vision.  Something about you gives them hope and helps them see Jesus – in some way, you are a mirror for them that helps them see themselves the way that Jesus sees them.

3.  People see God through you.  If you are honest, we are all just worms.  We growl when we get up in the morning, or when we get to tired at night, or when we are hungry, or… – but for some reason, God uses relationships – trust, compassion, love, care, healing touch, prayer, often words of knowledge and wisdom – He uses people to touch people and share His love.  We get the ability to love others from Him.  We love because He first loved us.

I think God’s marketing plan is irresistable grace.  Our job in His kingdom is to care for people regardless of their standing with Him, and let Him do the marketing.

False Advertising

April 20, 2009

I received a mailing today that made me stop and think.

First, through the envelope window, you could see Lady Liberty, much like you see on the tax refund checks.  For someone waiting for their tax refund check, this was sure to elicit an open-the-envelope response.

Next, just next to my name and address, it said “Pre-Approval For:”  (me)

After throwing it in the recycle pile, my curiosity got the better of me.  I wondered who was using people’s desire for their tax refund check to get them to apply for more credit.

Much to my surprise, the letter was from Feed the Children, asking me for money! That was a surprise.

When I see problems, I always try to analyze myself and approach to ministry for similar problems.  This piece of mail raised the following questions for me:

  • Are we at fault for similar deceptions?
  • Do we ‘befriend’ people because we really care?
  • Are we on some sort of campaign, and if so, are we using deceptive tactics?
  • What happens if someone acts in a way that is contrary to our friendship?  Do we ‘drop them from our mailing list’?

Jesus said:  John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

John 15:17 “This is my command: Love each other.”

Well, that’s a lot of deep thought over a piece of recycling.  I have suddenly become very thankful for a few people in my life. I have a few phone calls to make to some real genuine friends.