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23 May '13

Dealing with people who just don't get it

Posted by T.J. Addington
Too often in Christian circles when faced with problematic behaviors we are far less candid and defining than we need to be in trying to address them. In our desire to be "nice" and exhibit "grace" we understate the issues hoping that the staff member will "get it" and respond. Usually it does not work and in fact backfires when the behaviors continue unabated. 

Ironically it is precisely because they don't "get it" in the first place that we are having the conversation.

In addition, our "nice" approach is not fair to the one we are trying to get through to as they are not experts in subtlety. The only thing that will get their attention if one wants to help them is candid, unadulterated truth and honest feedback delivered in a way that leaves no room for interpretation. It is not about being unkind. It is about being exceedingly defining.

What do we need to be defining on?

First we need to be defining on what the problematic behaviors are with examples so that the staff member understands precisely what behaviors we are talking about. While they may not agree that the behaviors are problematic they must be clear on our assessment of them.

Second, we must be defining on how the behaviors impact others or the team negatively. 

Third, we must be defining on what we expect in the future. If we leave any doubt as to our expectations it is highly likely that there will be little if any change. After all, why go to the trouble of modifying my behavior if there is not a clear and defined expectation?

Fourth, we need to be defining as to what the consequences may be if there is not significant progress on problematic behaviors. This means that there is a clear follow up plan and that the individual knows from the start that the conversation is not over.

People who don't get it need help in getting it. As we say in Minnesota, "Minnesota nice" does not work in these situations. Directness is imperative when dealing with those who don't get subtlety.