If your leading a ministry people skills are a must. While the Lord seems to give some a natural ability to connect with others, we have to work at it. If you’re not naturally a people person that doesn’t mean you can’t be, it just means you will have to be a little more intentional about practicing a few basic techniques. I am not suggesting that you try to reinvent yourself or put on a fake personality, but merely using a few thoughts to help you connect better with people.
Why connect? When we are leading others we must be able to connect to then to lead them. If we ever want to have influence in their lives we must connect with them on a personal level. If you are in children’s ministry its important to connect with parents and grandparents of the children you are ministering to. By connecting to the parents and grandparents you can gain more influence in their lives, and after all that what the Lord has called you to do. You can’t show Christ to someone you can’t connect with. So here a few things you can do to connect to those around you in a more productive and influential way.
- Think like a dog.
Yes, I said “think like a dog”. When I was a kid I had a dog named Hannibal, named after Hannibal on the A-Team. Hannibal was a White Alaskan Malamute and he was my favorite childhood pet. Each day when I arrived home from school Hannibal was there to meet me. He was always glad to see me. He would wag his tail and jump up on me, licking my face. It was evident that Hannibal was glad to see me. He was excited to say the least. Are you excited to see others? I don’t suggest jumping on them and licking their face but when others encounter you at church, at the grocery store, picking up the kids at school, is it with a smile? Do they feel like you are excited to see them? In my area, it’s very common for people to greet one another with ” Hey, How’s it going?” they don’t really want to know, it’s out of habit. About two years ago, I changed my greeting to “Hey, its good to see you!” .. And it is! Peoples reaction changed a bit. They typicaly smile and say, its good to see you too. It’s a little thing that can make a big difference.
2. The power of the name.
“A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”- Dale Carnegie
Guess what, people love to hear their name out loud. We fall into this habit where we never use people’s names as we are talking with them. I struggle to remember names. I have tried every trick in the book and I still struggle. I sometimes have to ask people to “Remind me of your name again” I used to get embarrassed but then I realized people respected the fact that I asked instead of pretending I knew. When you are talking to someone face to face or the phone, address them by their name when you can. You will be amazed at how much more people will connect with you when you do this.
3. Stop talking to people.
What??? Yes, stop talking to people. What do I mean? Well, for many of us in ministry, we don’t have a problem talking. As a matter of fact we do it too much. We tend to talk TO people instead of talking WITH people. Have you ever been in conversation with a person who does all the talking? Did you walk away and think to yourself “What a great guy/girl” My guess is you didn’t, either you quickly disconnected from the conversation or zoned out entirely. Whenever you are in a conversation with someone new, ask lots of questions. People can tell you a lot about what they are interested in. Find out their interest and ask questions based upon their answers.
4. Make others feel important.
“Every person you meet is your superior in some way“- Emerson”
As you get to know others, find things they are good at and celebrate it. Let them know who awesome they are. This can be done very easily, as you notice something they do well, simply tell them. Be specific. Tell them about what you heard or observed and do it in a genuine way. It’s easy to pick out the negative traits in others. Guess what, you have some too. How does it make you feel when someone acknowledges how good you are at something? Find the good and celebrate it.
5. Listen generously.
When you are in conversation with someone, don’t be that person who fiddles on their phone, always looks around, and then when the person stops talking you come out with something that has nothing to do with what the other person just said. If your like me, sometimes I have a hard time focusing on the persons words. My mind wonders and quickly I think of what Im going to say when they stop talking.. Ever happen to you? Instead try repeating their words in your mind as they speak. It’s hard to do at first but gets easier with time.
These are just a few things that can help you with your people skills. I would like to hear from you. What others things do you do to connect with people?