Home Pastors Articles for Pastors 4 Steps to Handle an Awkward Discussion

4 Steps to Handle an Awkward Discussion

2. Keep the introverts and extroverts in mind.

Trying to get an introvert to talk when they don’t want to is like trying to get information from Jack Bauer — the harder you try, the less you will succeed. It’s also very unpleasant when anyone has to force conversation, and the vibe gets cold quickly.

Introverts tend to process things, hear others first, get a consensus, and mentally rotate concepts in 3D before expressing an opinion. They are better at one-on-one instead of icky group settings.

The church tends to get pretty biased against introverts, as if they’re always moody and emo and rebellious. But introverts have an entirely different grid that needs space and contemplation, and no one should ever shame them into changing that.

We have to let go of thinking “shyness is bad.” Some of the greatest ideas I’ve ever heard are from introverts who later approached me after chewing on a concept and suddenly blurted it out in a stream. That’s a wonderful moment that can’t happen if it’s rushed, and what you consider shyness might actually be waiting for the perfect time.

Let’s also be very thankful for extroverts, their obnoxious laughter and hatred of silence and constant need for attention. Seriously: Extroverts keep the place lively, and even if they are overbearing in large doses, you will miss them when they’re gone.

If you’re an extrovert, please don’t monopolize the conversation. We love your personality, but not if it’s interrupting every five seconds. If you’re trying to handle extroverts, the main thing here is to show extroverts how to listen and how to proceed. Lead by example. It could be as simple as, “I want to hear the rest of her thoughts on this one — don’t you?” No extrovert in their right mind will refuse, and most often, they will be the best encouragers in the room.

3. Have a big helping of self-awareness.

When it gets eerily silent, it’s okay to laugh about it. Acknowledge the awkwardness and let everyone know you’re thinking what they’re thinking.

If the temperature of the room is set to Mordor, the coffee tastes like the filter, the chairs are hard, one of the questions is totally bizarre, there’s a typo on the slide that says “Jebus” — just say it.

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Former atheist/agnostic, fifth degree black belt, recovered porn addict, and youth pastor in Tampa, FL. B.A. in Psychology from USF and a MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Have a German shepherd named Rosco, can eat five lbs. of steak in one sitting, and gave away half my salary this year to fight human trafficking. I blog regularly on my main site and my Tumblr for struggling Christians.