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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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Verbal Aikido: Techniques for
Managing Verbal Attacks
Thomas F. Fischer
How do you deal with the unexpected confrontation? What do you do when someones response is obviously designed to wrest control?
- Dont aim to kill your opposition.
- Instead of silencing the party attacking you, listen, absorb, and redirect the attack.
- Instead of using force, use the attack as a springboard to direct the energy to solve the problem.
- Honor and recognize the existence of opposition without accepting the severity of the attack.
- Seek knowledge and information, even if you dont agree with it or its communicated improperly.
- Dont use the Aikido attack opportunity to coerce your views, reiterate or position, or to have them seem it your way. Instead, use it to demonstrate your willingness to listen.
- Do not reinforce his resistance, but do acknowledge it.
- Let it be known that its OK to disagree and honorable for having shared the disagreement in a direct manner.
|"It wont work"||"It may not. I see some problems. What do you see?"|
|"Youre just like the rest of the pastors and leaders around here!"||"I am a pastor and a leader. Thats why I want to hear what youre saying. What do you see is the problem?|
|"All you think about is your own self and agenda?"||"I am concerned about what happens to the churchs ministry and how it affects members, including you. What kinds of things are bothering you?|
|"You pastors are all the same!"||"In many ways we are alike. But whatever you think about pastors and whatever your past experience with pastors, I want to work with you, not against you. What things are bothering you?|
|"You arent fair!"||"Sometimes I may not be. Leadership decisions may not always seem fair to individuals, though they are made with the intention to make things better for everyone. In what ways have things not been fair for you?"|
|General Attack||"There may be some truth to that. I dont have any pretense or illusions of being perfect. Im interested to hear what you have to say about this issue in greater detail."|
- 1) Listen to understand, not to gain tactical advantage.
Dont be defensive. Relax. Use this opportunity to exude trust and to receive information. If youre striving to win at the others expense, watch out! Youll probably lose the battle, the war, and their trust.
- Continually check and re-check the meaning of words, the specifics of the issues and, watching for non-verbals, try to discover which issue (or issues) are the most important one.
3) Listen with questions in mind. Ask yourself
- Whats the point?
- Are the points consistent with each other? Why or why not?
- Does it make sense?
- Is there real evidence to back up the assertions?
- Is this shared information fact, assumption, or hogwash?
- Could this be a politically-motivated "facade" of seeking truth to justify future (short or long-term) attacks? Whats his track record?
- How are my prejudices obscuring the issues presented?
- Is the issue really the real issue?
- Is my ego in the way again?
- How useful or applicable is this information?
4) Be a good facilitator.
- Dont be a "bore". According to Ambrose Bierces definition, a "bore" is "someone who talks when you want him to listen." Dont be a bore. Listen!
- 5) Begin redirecting toward problem solving.
- Nothing is worse than a sharing session which has not been directed toward a problem solving process. Be honest, direct, but courteous in discussing possible ways available to address the issue in a constructive, positive manner.
- 6) State your own views.
- Be honest and forthcoming, but not overbearing. Share your needs, views and perspectives and reasons why you currently are sympathetic to the position you hold.
- If middle ground is available, prudent and appropriate, suggest that possibility. If restrictions, rules, or other circumstances preclude the possibilities of middle ground, indicate the restrictions but do so in a patient manner which understands that accepting such non-negotiable items may be difficult but nevertheless necessary.
- 7) Encourage follow-up.
Thank that attacker for having shared the information and indicate that you would like to discuss this further at another time in the near future.
Perhaps you may follow-up with a very short letter simply acknowledging their concerns and thanking them for sharing with them. Do not go into any details or specifics in the letter. Also indicate in the letter your desire to discuss the issues further. Then follow-up.
Without intending to sound simplistic, naive or foolish, Spiritual Verbal Aikido is really the only Verbal Aikido Christians really need. Actually, it's the only one we have! It is a special gift of God, given by His abounding graciousness, especially for His people for use in those difficult, but necessary, ministry encounteers.
"When they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" Matthew 10:19-20 (NIV).
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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:02:23 PM