When you’re a bit nervous, it’s easy to just talk instead of listening too. Our top aim when inviting people to join our partner team is to have a relaxed, clear and encouraging conversation, but sometimes we can inadvertently make others feel uncomfortable.
How does that happen and how can we avoid it?
One issue is that once we have booked in a chat about joining our partner team with a friend, we sometimes forget that they come to the meeting with their own thoughts and feelings. If your friend rocks up to coffee having just lost their cat, that is what they will be thinking about. I know it sounds obvious and you’d like to think you don’t need reminding, but I’m going to do it anyway… Remember to show interest in them and their lives, just like you usually would. This is an invitation to join your partner team, but it’s also just a chat with a friend.
Sometimes we can have the opposite problem, we don’t give enough information or the right information clearly. People are happily listening to what you tell them but by the end of the conversation they still don’t know what you’re doing, never mind what you’re asking of them.
It is possible to arrange a meeting to ask someone to join your partner team, but never actually get round to inviting them to join your partner team. In this scenario, all that’s happened is you’ve shared some facts and the person you’ve shared them with has no idea why you are telling them all this. Make your invitation as clear as possible, telling the person why you want them specifically on your team and then leave a gap for them to give you their answer. You’re likely to want to speak at this point out of your own discomfort. Allow them to respond.
Their answer might be they want to think about it or discuss it with their partner, but they still need an opportunity to say that.
Another pitfall is using lots of jargon, acronyms and ministry strategies that people just don’t understand. Be sensitive to their knowledge of what your organisation does.
The biggest thing that makes people feel uncomfortable is when you don’t take responsibility for following up their decision. If you leave it to them to get back to you about whether they want to partner with you, their lives may be so busy that they don’t get a chance. And next time they bump into you at church/in the supermarket/on the street, they’ll feel embarrassed that they haven’t let you know what they are thinking about being on your team.
It's your job to not put them in that position and make sure that you keep the initiative, making it easy for them to let you know what they have decided.
It isn’t as hard as you think to do all we can to help others feel comfortable when we chat about joining our partner team. And once we’ve done that, we just need to deal with our inner thoughts.
Often, we imagine others feel uncomfortable when in fact the discomfort is only in our heads, as we worry our way through a list of issues.
“Do people want to give to us?” “Is our ministry valid?” “Will we come across as begging?”
The discomfort is actually ours. We need to not make it theirs.
To start tackling these thoughts, watch our video series ‘What I wish I knew before I started support raising’ or come on our Support Raising Training in September or March. Talking things through with other support raisers can really help, if you have already completed our Support Raising Training, you can come to our monthly Support Raising Surgery. Email here for more information.