Conversations that Measure Up

I admire people who are skilled bakers.  They seem to have a great sense of what constitutes excellent ingredients, precise proportioning, skillful measuring, and tempered blending.

Effective conversations need the same things.

Below is the kind of conversation I have encountered in some of my work with school and church staffs.  Notice how it “falls”.

Incident:  Karla and Stan are staff co-workers at a small rural parish.  Karla directs the youth ministry activities, and Stan directs the music program for the parish.  They frequently argue over music selections for certain Masses, and one day the following conversation ensues:

Karla:   “Stan, I want to talk with you about this Sunday’s services, but I don’t want this to turn into a fight.  Will you agree to have an open mind?”

Stan:    “Well this doesn’t sound good.  What is it?”

Karla:   “The youth group has been talking about using guitars during the 11 a.m. Mass.  I think it’s a good idea.  It appeals to their generation.”

Stan:    “You know how I feel about contemporary music in church.  We’ve had this discussion before, and once again you’re trying to tell me how to do my job.  Please remember that liturgical music is my responsibility.”

Karla:   “C’mon – You’re so stubborn!  It’s like you OWN the music in this church.  It’s yours and you don’t want to share… How can you call yourself a minister??”

Stan:    “Look, you can yell all you want.  It just makes you look ridiculous.  You know my answer.”

(And with that, he leaves the room.)

Question:  If Karla and Stan could start this conversation over, what might be a better recipe for success?

picture by savit keawtavee

This entry was posted in Case Studies, Conflict, Interpersonal Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

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