Reading time: two minutes.
“Hmmm. That’s very interesting.” Those are four words I’ve heard from many of you over the years as we’ve discussed handling our emotions in high stress moments of anxiety.
When someone shares an opinion that is clearly loaded with emotion, and when the impulse that surges up inside is to respond with a similarly emotional outburst, sometimes (usually!) the best response is a pause for quiet reflection, triggered by those four little words, “Hmmm. That’s very interesting.”
Churches are like families: they are very emotional places. How we handle all of the passion and the emotional outbursts will go a long way to determine the atmosphere of our homes and churches.
Creating a little space is a good idea. I’m always glad to hear from people like you who say that you’re learning to create that space with a calming expression like, “Hmmm. That’s very interesting.”
Churches, like families, are very emotional places because we are all so passionate about what happens in both. I’m always a little concerned about congregations that tell me, “Well, really, we’re pretty calm and quiet. Nobody ever gets upset about anything. We seem to be rolling along very smoothly. I can’t remember the last time we had any kind of disagreement.”
On the surface, that sounds pretty healthy, but it makes me wonder if anything much is happening there. When congregations are actively involved in serving families within and outside the church, especially in our dramatically changing neighborhoods, there are many important decisions being made and many new ideas that threaten to burst through the, “We’ve never done it that way before” mentality.
That will stir up some conflict. That will get some passion going!
It’s the kind of thing that causes people to express their feelings in highly charged fashion. Words are often spoken without being fully considered. “You’re the worst pastor we’ve ever had!” “If you vote in favor of the proposal, I’m taking my offerings and going somewhere else!” “This will be the end of our church as we know it!” “That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard!”
That’s exactly when leaders will step in, calm things down, slow things down, and help everyone consider the underlying motivation behind a highly emotional statement.
“Hmmm. That’s very interesting!” is an opening to pursue the wisdom that just might lie behind the passion. It gives people the opportunity to calmly consider the reasoning behind the passion. It’s a healthy thing when passion informs our decisions without dominating them.
“Plop” statements that are thrown out like emotional bombs intended to blown up the conversation can sometimes be indicators that someone has something to share. “Hmmm. That’s very interesting!” might be a way to defuse the bomb and truly listen to the concern.
That’s always healthy and productive. God bless your efforts at emotional disarmament!
Thanks for reading.
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