WFH NETWORK

June 2015 / Volume 3, No. 3

Effective communication: forging deep connections

 
  Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Communication is an integral part of being human. It’s how we share information and feel connected to one another. But effective communication is more than just an exchange of information; it’s about expressing who you are as a person and the emotions and intentions behind what you’re trying to say. Good written and spoken communication is instrumental in strengthening our relationships with others, both personally and professionally. Effective, collaborative communication is essential to the success of any team, including your youth group.


Effective, collaborative communication

Providing feedback

Constructive feedback can help individuals to become better at what they do by highlighting their strengths and by bringing their attention to things that can be improved. The aim of constructive feedback is to help individuals by expanding their knowledge of themselves and the impact they have on others – it is not an opportunity to degrade or insult them. Because feedback can be about personal things that people feel strongly about, it is not enough to merely have good intentions; feedback must be communicated effectively and sensitively. Balancing the negative with plenty of positive is key.

Constructive feedback
  • Constructive feedback is information-specific, issue-focused, and based on observations
    • Wherever possible, use specific examples and avoid exaggeration and judgments
  • Give feedback from your perspective. This avoids labeling the person
    • “You always take credit for my work” is not as helpful as “I was surprised and hurt that you didn’t mention my contributions.”
  • Don’t give feedback through e-mail or text message. Whenever possible, do it face-to-face, or by telephone
  • Express appreciation in positive feedback situations
  • Express concern in negative feedback situations. This shows you care and provides a level of sincerity. Try to avoid expressions of anger, frustration, disappointment, and sarcasm. These have a destructive rather than constructive impact
  • In the case of negative feedback, suggest concrete next steps. This ensures that you both know what needs to be done to improve the situation. Listen actively to what the individual says and encourage them to come up with solutions. Follow up to see how performance is improving
  • Use constructive feedback regularly to acknowledge good performance, and to balance any negative. It can be easier to notice failings than good work, so make an extra effort to look for the positive


Meeting minutes

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Writing meeting minutes

Recording what goes on in your group’s meetings ensures that you have something to refer back to if you need to remember key points of that discussion. Minutes are a written record of meetings and the decisions taken within them. They are helpful because people can forget what was said, what timelines were agreed upon, or what ideas were shared. They also inform absent members what took place during the meeting, while documenting any action items for the immediate and more distant future.

Who records them?

Usually a designated participant or participants will take minutes at each meeting; the task can be rotated among group members. If it’s your turn to take minutes, ensure that you receive a copy of the agenda ahead of time, so that you can familiarize yourself with the attendance list and the topics to be discussed.

What to record

“Minutes” is perhaps not the best name for this record as they do not document every single thing that happens each minute, but rather the essence of what happened. The following information is usually included:

What to include in minutes?
  • Time, date, and place of meeting
  • Name of organization (your team or committee name) and minute taker
  • Agenda or list of items to be discussed
  • Those present. If you don’t know everyone, use the attendance list. When typing out the minutes, start with the President/Chair’s name before listing all present. Referring to people by their initials elsewhere in the minutes saves space and time
  • Those absent, often referred to as Regrets or Apologies
  • Approval of the previous meeting’s minutes, and any matters arising from them. To become an official record, the previous meeting’s minutes must be approved, seconded, and voted to be a true and accurate record
  • Main points discussed and decisions taken for each item on the agenda, for example:
    • Voting outcomes
    • Ideas
    • Actions taken or agreed upon
    • Next steps
  • AOB – Any other business (items not on the agenda but that are brought up as the meeting closes)
  • Date, time, and venue of next meeting

 

Distribution of minutes
The role of the official “minute taker” may include the distribution of the minutes. Ensure that the Chair has reviewed them before circulation. It is good practice to keep a record of the distribution of minutes, even if this isn’t a requirement in your organization.

Open the door to profound connections

Practicing effective communication in a youth group setting has many advantages. It gives team members a valuable forum for expressing their feelings and inner thoughts, which can in turn help you to better understand who they are as individuals, and as part of the team. It also allows members to express their appreciation for each other and their hard work, while highlighting things that require improvement or change. A crucial part of team building, the right kind of communication, free of judgment and harshness, opens the door to a more profound connection with others.

What's next?

Democracy 
How can you ensure that all members feel involved in your youth group decisions? Should the group’s actions and information be made available to all members, the government, and even the general public? Learn more about democracy and transparency in an organizational setting in the next article.

 


Questions that require an answer are marked with  *
   
Have you ever faced a situation in which you had to give negative feedback to a team member? How did you communicate this, and what was the reaction you experienced? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?