Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Negotiating Indirectly

Today i got this article in my e-mail about negotiating, claiming that to get what you want you have to start by asking for something else, instead of being completely direct. The author gives a convincing argument, and it does seem to make sense that sometimes we scare people off when we tell them what we really want up front. So i wonder how this might apply to church work. My first thought was with approaching potential volunteers - is it better to tell them up front what we hope they'll sign up for, and all of the accompanying expectations? Or do we get farther by starting small - like getting them involved in small capacities before trying to sign them up for the jobs with high expectations, or like talking in general terms about the job and then, laying out all the details a few conversations later when they're really interested?

I guess neither of these really counts as asking for one thing in hopes of getting another, more like asking for something but not describing it fully up front. But it still raises the question - how do we as pastors best "negotiate" for what we need, especially when recruiting volunteers? Last time i was looking to fill a high-committment volunteer position i struck out twice by approaching people with the full job description and asking for a yes or no. The third time i gave most of the job description up front, but invited the person to participate in the ministy for a few weeks so he could check it out while he was trying to make a decision. The rest of the details were hammered out when he was ready to commit. So far he's the most committed volunteer i think i've ever worked with. God's hand was in it - i think he really was the right one out of the three i asked. But i also think the way i approached the previous two - unloading all the information up front in a single conversation - probably helped scare them off.

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