In a continuing list of the kinds of people I want serving on our
guest services (or first impressions) teams at Granger Community
Church, I offer characteristic #5:
- Disciplined Conversationalists: people who intuitively know how to carry on a conversation with others without feeling like the conversation has to be all about them
You've met this person. Maybe you're married to one (I hope not). These folks really are great conversationalists. That is, they're not afraid to start a conversation; they know how. They're not afraid to start a conversation with strangers; they know no stranger. They simply have no problem talking to people.
And that really is the problem - they talk to people, not with them. They can be highly entertaining, but often not engaging. They tend to focus on people - too often, themselves. In spite of that fact, these folks really do love people, and they're generally well-intended. But, like all of us, the person they know best and feel most comfortable talking about is "me".
It's not a surprise to discover one day that you've somehow brought people like this on to the team. Remember, this is about the guest, so who serves them really matters. How do you respond to them so your guests are cared for in a gracious manner?
- Do your best to get to know every person coming on to your team before you invite them to serve on the team. This won't necessarily be you every time. But responsible leaders should discover this kind of tendency before they come on board. Early detection is best. Then you either never bring the person on the team, or you take time to coach them before you do.
- If you missed the first step already, you'll need to confront the issue - soon. Behavior that is tolerated is condoned with silence. The longer you wait to have the conversation, the better your chance of redeeming the situation. Put it off and more guests will be turned off... and you'll have little to talk about, since time will have convinced this person that everything is okay.
- When you confront, deal with the problem and love the person. Remember, people matter - including this person who may be making your guests feel uncomfortable. This person probably really loves people. They may struggle with a sense of security and try to compensate. They may simply be over-using a self-disclosing skill (used sparingly and with discernment, this can reveal both empathy and vulnerability, engaging others in meaningful conversation) and be unaware of their pattern. Whether or not they continue to serve on your team, they want and need to serve somewhere. Help them find an appropriate place to connect.
- Your team needs you to deal with this issue, too. Your guests are not the only ones impacted by the undisciplined, me-focused greeter. Your greeters who serve alongside this person are impacted as well. If it persists, you risk being perceived as aloof and ignorant to what's happening with your guests. Or the team may sense that you're as frustrated as they are, but you're doing nothing about it. Your credibility as a leader is on the line.
I want people on my team who know how to engage people, honor safe personal boundaries and show a genuine interest in others. Guests can see right through self-centeredness. When our guests look at our team members, I want them to see Jesus. I want them to know they matter to God.
Who's serving on your team?