Interpersonal communication is a point of struggle for many people. Let’s be real, dealing with people is never easy. Many times, taking a question at face value is not appropriate. It’s not that people are trying to be deceitful, it’s just that many people are afraid to come right out and ask something. Although this is an area in which I still struggle, my interpersonal skills have grown over the last few years. In Missions ministry, I deal with people from all over the world or people who are doing ministry all over the world. In Children’s ministry, I deal with kids, their parents, and the volunteers that make it happen. I deal with pastors, family members, and fellow graduate students. This is my life, I’m in the people business. I would like to share with you 3 things that will help you get to appropriately answer a question.
1. Begin with what or how
What happened? How did that happened? Why not why? Because it goes down the road of the blame game. Why did you do that? Why did they do that? Why did that happen? Why can be reserved for another time. It starts to assign blame and will probably not take you to the root of the problem. Save why for later and focus on what or how.
2. Your initial response should probably contain the word “I”
I’m a doer, so my first response is usually something like, “How can I help?” It obviously depends on the question asked, but if you don’t want my help or my “expertise” then why are you even asking me anything at all?
3. Follow up
Sometimes people ask things they wouldn’t normally ask. It could be the heat of the moment or a momentary lapse in judgement. Follow up. Obviously this is not for questions like, “where did you get that ipad case?” no need to follow up on that! However, if someone in your team, irately, comes to you with a question like “Why would Carlitos(This is Miami!) move my equipment?” Then you should ask what happened, how can you help, and then follow up on that later on. It could be nothing, or you could diffuse a situation before it starts.
What are your strategies for dealing with questions?