Friday, January 2, 2009


I regularly get emails from Dr Tony Alessandra, a speaker focussed on "building Customers, Relationships, and the Bottom-Line."

This month's email on adaptability prompted my thinking further about Nick Todd's message from last Sunday on the PR of Christians to those in our community.

Alessandra says,

"Adaptable people make the choice to go beyond their own comfort zones so others feel more comfortable. Adaptability is your willingness and ability to behave in ways that are not necessarily characteristic of your style in order to deal effectively with the requirements of a situation or relationship.

With adaptability, you can treat people the way they want to be treated. You practice adaptability every time you slow down with another person who does not feel as comfortable moving as fast as you do. You also practice adaptability when you take time to listen to a personal story from another person, rather than getting right down to the task at hand.

Adaptability is important because people are different and need to be treated differently. You develop open and honest relationships with others by being tactful, reasonable, and understanding.

To use Nick's analogy, at church, instead of wearing a shirt branded "Mr Fussy", or "Mr Grumpy", or "Ms Task-driven" or worse "Mrs Elitist", we could wear a shirt that says, "Mr/s Adaptable". Being adaptable makes us focus on others, and realising that while we're comfortable, perhaps they're not; while the surroundings are "normal" to us, perhaps they feel like a fish out of water.

We can't treat people the way they want to be treated unless we have our ears and eyes open to where the other person is at.

Is this there first time at church?
Have they ever been to a church before?
Do they drink tea or coffee?
Do you have any children? are they here?

Knowing the answers to these simple questions may enable us to adapt ourselves to make them feel more comfortable.. such as:

Would you like to sit with us this morning?
Can I introduce you to ... (who may have similar demographics)
Can I help you up the stairs? Did you realise we have an elevator that might make it easier?
(after the service) Can I get you a coffee?

Ps Andrew Staggs recently blogged on a Church without Sound. One the points in the article was "When you take away the words, are the greeters authentic?" Churches communicate in ways far beyond the sermon. The church body as a whole communicate to visitors much earlier than the preacher. We can make or break the visitor's experience.

Let's make the choice to go beyond our own comfort zones by being adaptable people so others feel more comfortable.

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