“Can you hear me now?” was made famous by cell phone commercials, but do you often feel like asking that to the parents in your ministry? It causes great frustration when we have important information to share and we feel that no one is hearing us.
Sometimes, though, we cause our own problems. The follow communication mistakes are certain to get your message ignored. Click here to add your own to this list.
1. Overload with messages – Do you have that friend who forwards you every goofy joke or “touching” email they get? If you are like me, that person gets put on “ignore” in your mind, if not a direct ticket to your spam folder. Sometimes we are guilty of doing that with our families. If we send too many emails, too many phone calls, or hand out too many fliers it all becomes noise and clutter. Parents will put you on “ignore”. Before you send anything, evaluate how important it really is. Realize if you become a pest, people won’t hear you.
2. Don’t say anything important – Along the same lines, everything you communicate needs to have value to the person that’s listening. I was shocked yesterday when I sent out a message asking for t-shirt sizes for free shirts and I got 83 responses before the day was over. I doubt that I send very many emails that 80 people read, much less respond and do what I ask to do? But I shouldn’t have been shocked. The answer is value. Of course you can’t give away prizes every time you need people to read your stuff, but you do have to cut the fluff. Share what people need and want to know.
3. Only use one method – There are a bazillion ways to communicate with people these days… phone, email, text, twitter, Facebook, YouTube… even games like Words with Friends have chat options. Yet it is harder than ever to communicate your message. The reason is, everyone has preferred modes of communication. If you speak their “language”, whether that be a phone call or text or Facebook message, they will hear you. The challenge comes in that all of your people likely have different languages. If you only communicate through email, you will miss those who don’t check or read their email. If you only text you will miss those people who don’t text. You get the picture. For the most important info that everyone needs to hear, you will have to use every method possible. And you’ll still miss someone.
4. Only be needy – If every communication you send out is begging for something, your parents will tune you out. It’s not that people don’t really want to help, they just get bombarded with messages from everywhere wanting or needing something. If all of your messages are asking for volunteers or stuff or money, they become uninterested or they want to avoid the guilt that comes with not doing it.
5. Assume they know something – Sometimes parents don’t hear us because we never said it out loud! Too often we assume that parents know our expectations, policies, or procedures. The truth is, we never let them know, we just assumed that we did. Often we do this with change. We are living and breathing the details, and we assume everyone is right on track with us and understanding. Never assume and communicate well.
6. Don’t have a back up plan for when they forget what you say – Even if you get parents to hear you, chances are they are going to forget a lot of it. They are busy. And face it, as important as your announcements are to you, your parents have jobs and kids and homework and bills and ball practice and house repairs and a million other things to think about before they think about your ministry again. Provide a place for them to go when they remember they don’t know something. This could be a website that hosts current and relevant information. It could be an information center on your children’s hall with updated info. Just beware of assuming that since you said it once, they memorized all the details.