If ever there was a Tip you probably will NOT want to follow, this is it! At least, for me, it is a Tip that has been very hard to use. However, the value of it far outweighs the challenge and the amount of time that it takes to accomplish. So, tighten your seatbelt!
We live in a world that is very fast paced. People, in general, do not like to listen or read very carefully any more. They still like to talk, but concepts like listening, thinking, reading, and writing things down, is fast becoming a lost art. It is just too slow and painful.
For this week’s Tip, whenever you are faced with a challenging situation I want to encourage you to write out all of your thoughts. Be as clear and specific as possible. Even if it takes several hours to put everything down on paper, it will be well worth it – especially when it involves other people. Perhaps a recent situation will help explain what I mean.
A while back I was asked to settle an issue that a particular ministry was experiencing. I agreed. I knew that if the desired results could be reached, all of the individuals involved in this good ministry would benefit. I also knew that no one would walk away “whole” or with everything each person wanted.
One by one, I began to talk to the different people involved. It was interesting to hear such different perspectives from each person. After I had spoken to several of the people, I realized that I needed to write out all of my thoughts. Even though I had been taking notes, sometimes notes get lost in translation. I believed it was important for me to write out my complete thoughts in the form of an email that I could eventually send to everyone involved in the process.
The more I talked to people, the more I realized that the problem was not as significant as I first thought. It was just a matter of a lot of misunderstandings. In my last two phone calls in the process, everything began to come into focus in my mind. After completing all of my homework, I sat down to compose the email. It took me a couple of hours to write because I am not a very fast typist. Also, as I was typing out all of my thoughts, I realized that I needed to be crystal clear in order to communicate to everyone concerned exactly what was taking place.
Now here is where it really got interesting. After I had typed out all my thoughts and finished the email, I suddenly realized that it might be unwise to send it. There was so much information that I thought it might cause further confusion. Instead, I spent the next couple of hours calling everyone back and discussing the real issues with each person, one-by-one. In the end, everyone was very satisfied with the results and in harmony with each other once again. It was encouraging to me to see that even though there had been a lot of confusion due to some misunderstandings, everyone really did want to work together.
Here was the payoff for me: Because I was willing to take the time to write it all out clearly, I could communicate with precision and accuracy with everyone involved. The written word does not carry voice tones; that is why I thought that it would be better to call everyone rather than to send the email. Yet, I printed a copy of the email and was able to use it, point by point, as I discussed the situation with each person over the phone. Although I talked with each one separately, the information in my conversation was the same because I was able to follow my written script. My written out thoughts kept me on the right track. The beautiful thing about all of it is that I never intended to do that! In the process of writing everything out, I had discovered the answer to the problem. If I had not been able to use that same information to accurately convey what I wanted to say to each person the same way, there would only have been more confusion in the end. There is just something powerful about seeing your thoughts on paper.
The entire process took me several hours, but it was well worth it because now everything is back on track and is moving ahead better than it has in the past. I am sure there will be great success and benefit from those involved with this ministry working together in the future. I long to be a wise person, but it is sometimes painful and slow in the developmental stages!
I do not know if you followed every detail of that or not, but that is okay. The real point is that I was able to bring clarity to the situation because I wrote out everything I was thinking. Writing things out clarifies your thoughts. Writing things out clarifies the issues. Writing things out helps you to look at the entire picture in a sharper way because the written word is much more specific than the spoken word. After I got my written word clarified, I was able to speak in a way that I believe was much more helpful.
I don’t know if you have ever heard someone say, “I wish I could take back what I said” or, “I wish I had thought more carefully before those words came out of my mouth!” That is the direct result of speaking before you think. I have discovered that writing things out helps me to speak more accurately. It is hard work on the front side, but it is sweet success at the end of the process.
The next time you face a difficult situation, rather than going off “half-cocked”, like I am often prone to do, let me encourage you to take the time to sit down and write everything out. It seems to take all of the emotion out of an issue. It helps bring objectivity, clarity and direction to the situation.
I don’t own a corner on this market. Feel free to share this – if you are up to it. You will be glad that you did!
Tip: Write it all out first!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm