He talked on and on. People gathered around. He clearly was the center of attention. As people begin to gather around this church leader, he became more animated and loud. Onlookers were laughing as he told the story. Finally, everyone disbursed.
Later, this same church leader walked into a meeting where another was talking to a group and seemed to be the center of the conversation. The church leader who earlier was energetic and intense when he was telling the story, now seemed uncomfortable and ill at ease.
As the conversation in the room prolonged, the church leader silently began scrolling through his iPad. He made eye contact with no one and seemed disconnected.
Finally, the conversation in the room ended. At that point, this church leader began telling a story to the group, once again becoming loud and animated, while everyone laughed. He seemed to come alive again.
His behavior did not go unnoticed.
Some people seem to function most confidently when they are the center of attention. However, these same people may be very uncomfortable when another receives the attention of a group.
Why mention this?
A church leader perceived to be an obnoxious bore who constantly demands the attention in the room can drain the energy out of a group. The default of the rest of the group is often silence while they defer to the one who will gladly talk on and on. One minister was described as “loving to hear himself talk.” Not good.
It is true that some church leaders run into difficulties because of theological differences. Others, however, hurt their influence within a congregation by making relational mistakes. After awhile, a church can become weary of too many thoughtless, unnecessary relational blunders. These blunders have a way of costing a church leader needed goodwill.
A few suggestions:
1. Beware of regularly monopolizing conversations. This can happen so easily in casual conversations, staff meetings and elder meetings. Ask a trusted friend to tell you how much you are talking in comparison to others in a group.
2. Look for ways to bring others into the conversation. Some people simply need an opening or need to be asked a question.
3. Consider how many questions you are asking another Some people talk on and on about their concerns and rarely, if at all, ask others questions. If you were to be timed to see how much you talked during a particular conversation versus how much another talked, would you be surprised at the outcome?
4. When someone else tells a story, ask questions that invite further elaboration or clarification. Some people respond to another’s story by practicing one-upmanship. “That’s nothing; you should have seen what happened to me!” Instead of asking for elaboration, they begin telling their own story.