I remember reading in one of Bill Hybel’s books that he invites 6-8 people from his congregation to give him specific feedback on his talks. He gave them a sheet with several questions on it, and had them turn them into him a couple of days after his sermon to help him “stay on track” in effective communication. WOW – that’s transparent leadership, and a sign of someone who wants to get better and better.
So what about you and me? Do we invite people to speak into our lives to help make us better… help show a clearer picture of who we are and point out blind spots?
I was on the golf course two weeks ago with a good friend who speaks to hundreds of thousands of people every year. The two of us had been at a charity golf outing earlier that week, and I was asked to share a few comments in presenting an award. No big deal, right? I didn’t prepare anything…I didn’t really even think about it…I just “winged” it.
So it surprised me when my friend said, “Brother, can I share something with you about your award presentation on Monday? Do you realize that sometimes when you speak you close your eyes?”
OK…I’ll admit that everything inside me wanted to start defending and offering excuses, like the fact that I played the round with sunglasses on, but I took them off for the presentation and the sun was bright (you know, the ‘ole “the sun was in my eyes” line!). However, I knew that my friend was risking in sharing with me, but only for my own good. He just wants me to be the very best communicator God designed me to be, and I’m thankful to have friends like that in my life.
What about you? Who can you trust to invite constructive criticism into your life…into your communication skills? Here are a few questions you could throw out to co-workers and friends to “jump-start” the exchange.
• When I communicate, do you generally understand me?
• Do I have any habits in my communication that are distracting?
• If you could improve one aspect about my communication, what would it be?
Proverbs 25:11-12 in The Message says it this way…
The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
Oh, and by the way…thanks, Bill! You, and others, have permission…