How to Lead Better By Improving Lines of Communication

Rick Warren
Rick Warren (Facebook)

You can't lead a church, evangelize a community, or do business without communicating. The better you become as a communicator, the better you become as a leader, and the better the team you lead becomes as a result.

That means to get ahead you've got to continually work on your communication skills. Probably 75 percent of the problems we face, at home, at work, and at church are related to poor communication with family members, church members, your clients, or your coworkers. Poor communication is also the most frequently mentioned problem in marriage counseling.

Here are three things you must give up in order to grow as a communicator. As you lead:

1. Give up your assumptions. We get into trouble when we start assuming we understand the meaning of what people say to us. The truth is, everything you hear goes through a filter. Your filter is determined by your past experiences and your unique personality. You may not be hearing what they are really saying. Therefore, it's smart (and safe) to ask for clarification. There are 6 possible messages every time you speak:

  • What you mean to say and what you actually said.
  • What they heard and what they think they heard.
  • What they say about it and what you think they said about it.

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Proverbs 18:13 says, "It's foolish to answer before listening."

There is a second kind of assumption you need to give up on. Stop assuming people understand everything you're thinking and feeling as you communicate. It's only fair to clearly and completely share your expectations with people when you assign them a task or a project. You must find a way to be both concise and complete, and always clear when you communicate.

2. Give up your accusations. You're never persuasive when you're abrasive. And you never get your point across by being cross. Anger and sarcasm only make people defensive ... and defensiveness kills communication. Here are four common forms of accusation:

  • Exaggerating – making sweeping generalities like "You never " or "You always."
  • Labeling – derogatory name-calling. Labeling never changes anyone. It only reinforces the negative behavior.
  • Playing Historian – bringing up past failures, mistakes, and broken promises.
  • Asking Loaded Questions – which really can't be answered, like "Can't you do anything right?"

Ephesians 4:29 says, "Use only helpful words, the kind that build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

3. Give up your apprehensions. Fear prevents honest communication. It causes us to conceal our true feelings, and fail to confront the real issues. The two most common apprehensions are: the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. But when you face your fear and risk being honest—real communication can happen. Freedom is the result of openness. Jesus said, "The truth will set you free!" (John 8:32).

Good teams communicate, or they disintegrate. It's worth giving up our assumptions, our accusations, and our apprehensions to build unity and lead everyone forward.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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