You Talkin’ To Me?

Posted: December 10, 2010 in leadership, life, ministry, perspective, productivity, reconciliation, spiritual formation

Seriously! Who are you talking to?

In our hectic, dog-eat-dog, workaday world, where so much rest on productivity, meeting deadlines and getting things done, you cannot forget that the people you deal with everyday are people. I can’t tell you how many times in a week someone comes into my office, or I see them at my daughter’s school, and even as people walk onto our campus for worship or Bible study and they act as if the people around them are means to an end.

No, “Hi.” No, “Good Morning.” Nothing. They just launch into the business they want to cover – usually something they want someone to do.

The obvious sentiment is this: I don’t care about you, I only care about my agenda. Incidentally, these are the same people who can’t sit down with you over lunch or coffee without checking their phone 50 times. If you’re one these people,  I’ve got a newsflash for all of you: You’re RUDE!

Before you all start thinking I’m just ranting, all this rudeness is actually hurting you professionally and relationally. Each day you are given a gift: People! Your relationships with them and what you can accomplish together is the arena of your success. People know when you’re using them or when you’re speaking to them to advantage yourself and your agenda and no one likes it. People are willing to deal with it for a little while, but not forever.  Each of us has to push against the tide of a culture that objectifies people. Here’s how:

1. Ask, “How are you?” when you greet people. Of course, 99% of people will say, ” I’m fine” in response. That’s okay. But in simply asking, you’ve affirmed a basic truth of our creation; we are made in God’s image. That means that people have inherent worth. Would it be so bad if all of us went to bed at night and knew at least one person inquired about our lives? You don’t have to be interested in the details of other people’s lives, but other people’s lives have details that matter to God. And if you’re a Christian, this simple question (in a world where it’s increasingly not asked anymore) may be the slight opening you and God need to do some powerful ministry.

2. Put Away Your Phone. For centuries families, businesses and nations were productive and healthy without cell phones. Your e-mail, twitter feed, or facebook page can wait. If you’re not concerned about your spouse going into labor, it can wait! It really, really can. We all have cell phones now, whiping yours out and checking your e-mail doesn’t make you look important, it makes you look pompous!

3. Take Off Your Sunglasses. Good grief, we’re not standing at the North Pole. The sunlight isn’t going to burn your retinas. You’re not Paris Hilton, for Heaven’s sake! What are you hiding from? When you’re talking to someone, look them in the eyes. When we look people in the eyes you tell them that they matter, that what they’re saying is important and are worth your time. Hiding behind sunglasses makes people wonder what you’re looking at and what, other than me, is occupying your attention right now.

4. Touch Someone. You’d be amazed at how many people live day-to-day without anyone touching them – no handshakes, no hugs, no pats on the shoulder or back. This is unacceptable. Years ago I had a professor show me a video of Mother Theresa. He said, “Don’t listen to the audio, just watch what she does with her hands.” That video changed my life. One of the things that amazed people about Jesus was that He physically touched people — even untouchable people. Obvious, this should be done appropriately.

I have a simple rule: Every person needs a look, a touch, and a word. If you did this you would soon become one of the more popular and respected people in all the environments where you engage.

  1. Bill says:

    Good stuff! I heard someone this morning say that most of us are addicted to “Busy.”

  2. altonwoods says:

    First off, hello Sean! See I do get it!

    I think you make a very good point here. I’ve also noticed these same occurances all too often and in order to be the change I wish to see in my world have made it a point to…

    1) Use peoples names whenever I can.

    2) Try to not be in such a hurry that I can’t take a minute and chit-chat with people if they seem to be looking to engage me

    3) Be genuinely interested in others and do them the courtesy of actually listening to them.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts Sean, the art of relationship between people is definitely something we all need to do much better at!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sean Palmer, Redwood Church. Redwood Church said: New post: "You Talkin' To Me?" […]

  4. Deanna Love says:

    Sean, how are you? Just want to say that I am blessed to be part of a church family where everyone hugs everyone and stops to ask about one another — I mean REALLY ask. Most of us are older — maybe we have learned to take time for these things; maybe we are not in such a hurry any more. We all have cell phones, but not the fancy “extras.” Visitors remark about the warmth of this congregation. As I said, I am blessed. And I am blessed to know you and your precious family.

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