I recently heard from the member of a committee who had a common but tough concern: They believed committee members weren’t taking time to get feedback from the larger group (in this case, church congregants) and that consequently congregants would be unwilling to accept their proposals and decisions. They wondered if they should speak up to the committee and express their opinions.
We live in a fast-paced, results-oriented world. Often in our effort to keep up and get things done, we miss crucial information. That’s what’s great about the Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue course. It isn’t about communication for communication’s sake; it’s about results. Whether in your professional or personal lives, you are trying to make good decisions that lead to results, and crucial conversation skills can help.
The key to making good decisions is having a full pool of shared meaning. Each person brings their opinions, feelings, and experiences to each situation. As each person shares their meaning, they add to the pool. Fuller pools of meaning lead to better decisions.
Committees serve as a reservoir for the pool of meaning. In effective committees, everyone’s voice is shared, acknowledged, considered, and appreciated.
The answer to most questions that begin with “Should I?” is usually “Yes.” So yes, you should share your concerns. Now how do you do that effectively? Here are three suggestions that should help you share concerns with your committee.
Clarify Your StoriesOne of the biggest barriers to effective communication is the emotion roused by the stories you tell yourself about a situation. Are you crafting narratives about the motives or abilities of the committee related to these conclusions?
- The committee isn’t listening.
- The committee is minimizing the concerns of members.
- The committee is moving too quickly.
Internal stories or narratives derive from the conclusions and judgments you make about the behavior of others. But there’s a difference between clarifying your stories and confirming or denying them. The goal is to evaluate and interrogate your stories to minimize the emotional reactions they evoke. Ask yourself, “What did I see or hear that leads me to believe the committee isn’t listening or that they’re moving too fast?” The answer to these questions will give you the clarity you need to you share your concerns.
Make Your Motives KnownMake it clear that you have good motives so committee members feel safe to receive your message. It would be very easy for your fellow members to internalize your words, become defensive, and either shut down or fire back.
Begin by asking if you can share some of your concerns. This will set the stage for the content. Then let them know that your intention is not to be critical. Rather, your goal is to fill the pool of shared meaning with as much information and perspective as possible. This not only unveils possible answers but also amplifies the application of the solution.
Show, Don’t TellWith clarity behind your stories, and your motives known, describe your concerns in factual detail. What did you experience that caused you to draw the conclusions that you did?
When you tell others your concerns, you typically share your story. When you show your concerns, you use facts that describe the actual events and behaviors.
When you lean on these three skills, you can illuminate a problem without judgment and emotion. This will ensure people can see the problem for what it is, and together you can find solutions to solve it. By helping your committee better solicit, listen to, and consider the needs and concerns of the larger group, you are magnifying your stewardship to those you lead.