Note: this article is one of six articles that eventually grew into a book: Make Your Group Grow. Available here: www.youcandouble.com
#3 People skills
Teachers with good people skills were two and a half times (147%) more likely to be growing than those with bad people skills. People skills matter more than participation in visitation, how many parties you have or don’t have, how you spend your time, what your purpose is, or how many people you have on your team helping you. If you have ever read a John Maxwell book on leadership you know this. Turns out, John Maxwell is right. People skills matter. It matters a lot. (Note: this is not a scientifically randomized survey, but rather a survey of group leaders that I filled out surveys online and at conferences.)
What are good people skills?
It starts on the inside
If you want to get along well with people, it helps to like them. Really like them. Not pretend to like them. Not act like you like them. Really like them. Think kind thoughts about them. Think kindly of them. Cultivate a heart that loves them.
This attitude should be reflected toward Christians and non-christians. One of the reasons why many churches are not effective at reaching non-christians is that the Christians don’t like the non-christians. They can tell. They can always tell.
A better outreach program is not going to fix this problem. We need a better heart. A heart that cares. A heart that is drawn to. A heart that wants to be with.
So, let me ask you: how do you feel about the people in your class? How do you feel about non-christians? Let’s all pray that God would do a work in our heart that makes us drawn toward them, as He is drawn toward them.
Proverbs 15.1 says that a soft answer turns away wrath. Notice it doesn’t say a right answer. It says a soft answer. Simple as it sounds, most of us would get along with people better if we just used a softer tone.
The opposite is also true. A loud, harsh, rude, shrill, ugly tone is going to bring bad results, even if you are thinking kind thoughts. The tone of your voice has just about as much to do with the quality of your relationships as any other single factor.
If you would get alone well with others, cultivate the habit of using a kind, gracious tone.
If you have not read Townsend and Cloud’s book Boundaries, you need to do so. Read it.
Actually that tone is a violation of what I am trying to communicate. I would invite you to read it; it is a great read. But I invite, I don’t order. You are you and I am me and I can’t order you do to anything nor should I try. People don’t like it when you don’t respect their boundaries.
We need to ask; not assume. We need to invite; not order. We need to offer; not demand. We need to respect the fact that other people are other people. They are not extensions of us. We need to respect their boundaries.
Lack of planning on your part does not create an emergency on mine. A need on your part does not create an obligation within me. Your problems are your problems.
This principle has a myriad of implications, so go read the book! (How did that feel? Not so good, right?)
Overcome evil with good
Love covers a multitude of sin. If you are constantly being nice and courteous and thoughtful and complementary, and then you do something that irritates me, I can deal with it.
But, if you are constantly being rude or short or insensitive. . . the Proverbs speaks about how a constant dripping wears you down.
Constantly lavish people inside and out with kind, thoughtful words and deeds. When you do this, you build up a credit so that when you do mess up, people can deal with it.
Let God fill your tank
As you give to others, you can sometimes get drained. Let God fill your tank. Come to God each day and ask Him to fill you so you can give to others.
It is true in a marriage. Here is how it works. We are like to glasses of water. I pour into Missy and she pours back into me. We both fill each other up. But, there is a problem. There is a little spillage along the way. I try to pour into her but I don’t quite get it right. She tries to pour into me.
But God. Those too words change everything, don’t they? As each of us allows God to fill our tank we have plenty to give to others.
How full is your tank?
If people skills are as important as they are we ought to spend a good deal of time cultivating better people skills. We ought to make a life long habit of getting better and dealing with people. Teacher training ought to be largely about developing better people skills.
I have written a study guide to John Maxwell’s book on people skills. Access it for free here: https://www.joshhunt.com/25waysIndex.htm