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One consideration people everywhere in our culture today have in common is, People want to be heard. Unfortunately, there are two barriers in most organizations. One is, there is no apparent structure for the average worker or member to share his/her viewpoints and suggestions. Some organizations and leaders go to extremes to make sure workers do have a communication avenue like this. Poor leaders do not want any input from others. Great, successful leaders, on the other hand, welcome input and provide avenues of communication.

The second barrier is most people have difficulty expressing his/her viewpoints and suggestions. Few people have been trained or know how to deliver a suggestion without attached emotional baggage. Therefore, what could be a great suggestion, becomes a complaining point. You cannot (and should not) totally separate emotional attachment from a suggestion, especially if your belief is that this suggestion will benefit organizational quality. As leaders, we need to be able to assist others in sharing his/her ideas in a congruent manner.

As a coach, I have found one of the best ways to do this is by asking a “tell me more” question. “That’s interesting. Can you tell me more?” A couple others would be, “Can you unpack that for me?” “Have you seen this happen before? If so, how was it handled?” Tell me more questions allow the speaker to process a little further his/her issue and reason for speaking. This approach may take a few more minutes, but it can produce great results for the entire organization.

These questions open the door for you, the leader to ask, “How do you think we could better handle this in the future?” or “Thank you for that insight. We’ll work on a better solution. If you have any thoughts, please submit them in writing, so I convey your thoughts correctly.” Having someone submit possible solutions in writing causes them to think about how you as the leader have to process information. It also shows that you are interested in listening to his/her viewpoint and suggestions.

Oftentimes, the answer to this individual’s personal issue will be revealed in his/her explanation. This will give the leader the information needed to help this person achieve greater effectiveness. Never underestimate the power of influence on others when they believe their voice is being heard.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at

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