How Introverts Can Easily Start Conversation

Left out of Group discussion

How can an introvert be involved in group conversation?

One of the most difficult things for an introvert is to begin a conversation with a group of people they don’t know. In this article I will give you tips on how to do just that comfortably…without sweating or hyperventilating.

I’m an extrovert, I freely admit that.  My four daughters joke that I “could make friends in an elevator.”  I was going to object but in fact I have made friends in an elevator on more than one occasion.  What I mean is, learning about their family, their name, occupation and sometimes even exchanging contact info, in a 3 floor ride!  I enjoy it.  If you don’t, let me help.

My goal is NOT to make you like me. My wife is an introvert.  It’s part of her charm.  She won’t raise her hand for a free gift or make eye contact with strangers. After 24 years of marriage still whispers “Don’t embarrass me or draw attention to me.” as we enter parties or group settings.  I understand how introverts think and how anxious group situations can be and have some practical conversation guides you can easily use.

Let’s talk about how you can OWN a group conversation.

1. Don’t Use a Greeting Alone, 

Don’t say: Hi, Hello or some other greeting.

Don’t use a greeting alone because the person doesn’t really need to respond, and if they do choose to respond it will most likely be a one word answer.

“Hi”     —     “Hello”

“Good morning”     —     “Good morning”

Yawn…I can hear the boredom already.  Feel your palms starting to sweat as you slowly try to find a reason to walk away?

2. Don’t Ask Simple Questions

“How are you?”     —     “Good”

“Where are you from?”     —     “Dayton, Ohio”

“What do you do?”     —     “I’m a computer analyst”

Gosh!  This guy just doesn’t want to talk!  I’ve asked several questions and nothing. Simple questions, solicit simple answers. Simple answers leads to awkward conversations.

Remember: Complex Questions =
More Comfortable Conversations

3. The SECRET is… Ask For Stories, Not Facts

Instead of asking…

“Where are you from?”         ask…
“What’s the strangest thing about where you grew up?”

Instead of asking…

“What do you do for work?”         ask…
“How did you get into your line of work?”

They will tell you, “I’m an air traffic controller. I got into that because I was trained to do that in the Navy.”

Response: “Wow, tell me what you liked best about the Navy.”

Instead of asking…

“How was your weekend?”         ask…
“If you could go anywhere, where would you go and why?”

Stories develop better connections.

BONUS: Want to be a Black Belt in Conversation?

4. Give Unexpected Responses

If someone says, “How was your flight?” instead of responding, “Fine.” try this:

I would pay extra to fly on an airline where the seating was based on IQ!

or for the very brave…

“I read about a Continental flight in 2007 where the airplane bathroom reversed its pressure! There was a 3″ deep stream of waste water running down the aisle in coach!  So I guess compared to that, mine was pretty good.”

If someone says, “Isn’t it nice weather today?” instead of responding, “It sure is.” try this:

“This is the same weather it was during the moon landing, if that actually happened.”

Now you’ve provoked someone into taking a stance on the subject or running away screaming, but they’re not bored!

Try some of these techniques and come back to comment on how they worked please.

I look forward to hearing your stories.

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Focus mean saying no.

Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple) said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.”

It is the focus on making disciples that will make churches and individual believers great.  God gave us His authority for a reason, to make disciples.

Matt 28:18-20 – Jesus came and told His disciples, I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Loss of focus causes us lose God’s authority and eventually we become dry.  It isn’t sin that causes people to start to slide away from God, it’s loss of focus.  Once the focus is lost it will eventually lead to sin but it started by saying yes to seemingly good opportunities that weren’t focused on disciple-making.

What do you spend most of your time, talent and treasure (money) on?

Openness in Relationships

Question: Who really knows you enough to be open with you?

Do you have someone in your life that will tell you the truth when you’re messing up?  Are you that person for your close friends?  As a pastor there are times when I have to tell people the things they don’t want to hear.  “Well what you’re experiencing right now is the consequence of your sin.”  Ouch, no one wants to hear that but love demands the truth that we might grow and become better followers of Christ.

Proverbs 27:5-6 – An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

You can measure the value that you place on a relationship by the level of discomfort you are willing to engage to make that relationship the best it can possibly be.  If you value the relationship and love the person you have to risk the conflict and even the loss of the relationship to help the person grow.

I’m not talking about butting in constantly but if you love someone and there’s weakness or a sin creeping in, tell them the truth.  The big question is do you have someone who loves you enough to tell YOU the truth?

Saintly Serving

1 Peter 4:10 – Each one should use whatever gift he’s received to serve others. (niv)

There is such a joy when people give their time and use their skill to serve the House of God.  We just finished our quarterly work day at the church today.  There were 33 adults that gave up some of their Saturday to clean, repair and organize the church.

Ephesians 2:10 – We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (niv)

We were all made to be a contributing part of God’s family, a contributor not just a consumer. The Bible says we’re created to serve, we’re saved to serve, we’re gifted to serve, and we’re shaped to serve.  We’re commanded to serve God by serving others.  May God bless each of you as you serve the Lord by serving others.

Matthew 20:26b-28 – Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others

Someone once asked me why he felt disconnected from the church.  I asked him if he was serving in any area of the church and if he was in a small group.  The answer to both questions was no.  My reply was, “Then you are not connected to this church.”  He was shocked and exclaimed, “How can you say that?  I’ve been in this church for 15 years.”  Then he told me of all the ministries he served in and all the things he had done.

“My point exactly” I explained.  “While you were involved serving and were connecting with people in small groups, you felt connected, a part of the church.  Now that you’re not doing those things, you don’t.”

Have trouble making friends?  Feel disconnected from church at times?  Make sure your serving, it’s a great way to get to know people!!

Thank you again to those faithful people who came out and served today.  So much was accomplished from cleaning out the junk, to knocking down the wall to open the hallway for the new café.   To many things to list here but just as important is this… it was a great fun working together.  God Bless

Off to NY City for Personal Growth

Today’s a busy day.  I have a couple meetings and then grab a train to NYC for my pastor’s coaching network with Nelson Searcy.  It’s kind of a Small Group for Sr. Pastors.  Twenty pastors from around the country meet monthly.  We study a different topic each month by reading a book and sharing our thoughts with the group in a report.  When we come together we then discuss the topic for a couple hours.  The second half of the day is spent discussing the pressure points in our churches and finding solutions.  It’s great personally and for our ministries.  Topics have included: evangelism, small groups, stewardship, staffing, raising up leaders, service planning, assimilation (moving people from guests to members) and personal growth so far.

Why I am writing about this here?  Because I want to encourage each of that unless you are intentional about personal growth…you will NOT grow.  I know, not a new revelation there but we really don’t need some new revelation from God, we need to walk out what He’s already given us.

What’s your plan?  Will you be closer to Jesus more next year than you are now?  Is your faith more effective in your life and the life of those around you this year than it was last year?

 

Mosaic: God Builds with Broken Pieces

We just finished a series called: Mosaic: God Builds with Broken Pieces.  I am so thankful that God doesn’t use perfect pieces to build with.  He is into making something from nothing.  He formed Adam from dust, Eve from Adam’s rib, and spoke the light into existance!  He is the ultimate creator. (1 Cor 12:12-13)

Have you ever watched an artist take broken pieces of glass and carefully, lovingly place them into a beautiful piece of artwork? God is like that with us. He takes our broken lives and places them into the framework of His church. The individual pieces might be shattered, ugly and seem useless, but put together by His skilled hands you step back and gasp at the beauty of what He’s making, His church. (Matt 16:18)

As I meet with different people every day I am so thankful that we are all uniquely gifted people, each with a part to play in God’s plan.  I am grateful the Lord gave me you!

The Morning After

Well Monday mornings are always a down time for me.  I usually have the “holy hangover” from ministering Sunday.  Then Sunday night we had a creative team meeting to discuss upcoming series and Christmas ideas.  So I was especially tired this week, physically, but refreshed spiritually.

It was wodnerful to spend time with the Fedeles at dinner.  Pastor Steve Fedele brought a really good word Sunday and gave very specific prophetic words to individual people.  I was encouraged at the word the Lord spoke to me personally through him regarding me mentoring  men called to ministry.  I have been doing a small group for a while with the goal of activating people into their ministry calling, so it was good confirmation to the direction God is taking me.

As most of you know, we had our Connect Group kick off at the church two Sundays ago.   A great time for all.  I don’t just preach about small group involvement but believe in connecting in groups so strongly that I host one and participate in one myself.

So, on the morning after, Monday morning, I encourage all of us to look at our Christian journey and see are we growing.  If not, what’s probabably missing is the encouragement and accountability a Connect Group brings.  God Bless