Eight Keys in Effective Communicating


1.      Ask questions.  You usually do not know the family’s needs unless you ask appropriate questions and listen carefully to their answers.

2.      Concentrate on what they say.  Too many times we merely pretend to listen, waiting for that moment when we can jump back in and take control of the conversation.  Listen intently.  Soak up what they are saying.

3.      Repeat back what they have just said.  When it is appropriate for you to respond, do so by repeating the essence of what they have just told you, for example,  “Then you believe that...”  and so on.  This lets them know you have heard what they said.  It gives them a chance to continue talking.  They know you are listening.

4.      Do not change the subject.  Stay with what they are telling you.  When they are quite finished, help them to continue talking by asking another related question.

5.      Invite them to tell you more.  If what they are saying is productive to you, encourage them to continue:  “Tell me more,...What else did you feel?, etc..”

6.      Do not interrupt.  When you force yourself into their monologue, it obviously breaks into their line of thought.  Depending on how forceful or oblique your interruption is, they may never return to the genuine feelings they were trying to communicate to you.

7.      Do not let them see you are not interested.  If they lose eye contact with you because you are gazing about, looking through your scriptures, moving and shifting your position, they will quickly recognize you are not listening to them, not interested in what they are saying.  Their words may, in fact, be uninteresting--but even so, your concentration and sensitivity about what they are saying will help you learn more of them and thus become a more helpful home minister.

8.     Avoid criticism.  How can you be a helpful sounding board if you are too quick to criticize or too vocal in your evaluation?  Take a soft approach.  Compliment the family where you can.  If they see you as being reasonable and responsive, they will seek your council and advice again and again.  Avoiding criticism builds a trusting relationship.


 Adapted from: Marshall, Richard J., Home Teaching with Purpose and Power, Deseret Book Company, pp. 100-102.