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Inter-Team Dialogue: The Benefits Of Open, Positive Communication With The Team

We work in churches in teams that reach beyond just the technical aspects of the job. Without good communication and open dialogue, we are destined for inefficiency, unmet goals, and more.

The biggest fault line in any relationship is communication. Without good communication and open dialogue, we are destined for inefficiency, unmet goals, and more often than not, hurt feelings.

We work in churches in teams that reach beyond just the technical aspects of the job. Therefore, it’s important – nay, vital – that we work to create good communication and open dialogue between all team members.

The Cost

I’ve recently been witness to a total lack of communication in a team at a house of worship. Things were handled astonishingly poorly. The ball was dropped and now the ministry suffers for it.

The powers that be decided there was to be a format change for a specific church program. Instead of having an open dialogue and moderating a meeting about the format change, the volunteers and contractors that had been working the program for years were told they wouldn’t be needed anymore. They were simply cut off, and there was nothing else to be said.

The worst part was that the people who made the decision to change the format were not even the ones to tell these volunteers and contractors. With the carpet ripped out from under them, and unbeknownst to the leaders of the ministry, the volunteers and contractors were pushed aside with little information and feeling abandoned while the ministry program they helped build lost the most fervent supporters.

By the time everyone got around to getting all the information, the damage had been done. What lies in the future of that program rests entirely on the directors and any issues that may be discovered can only be blamed on the individuals that allowed communication to disappear.

Are you willing to risk your mission as a team, your purpose in the pews, and your goals as technicians and engineers for houses or worship be tarnished and destroyed simply because there wasn’t an open inter-team dialogue? The cost is high.

The Basics

I think we’ve all been in meetings that would have been better spent written in an email. The purpose of creating an open and inter-team dialogue is not to waste time, but to facilitate conversation.

For you and your team, this may look like a weekly meeting to discuss the good, bad, and ugly of what has happened in the week prior. For others, this may look more like an ongoing string of communication.

I can’t say what is best for your team. It will require some brainstorming. What I do want to focus on is what good communication looks like.

Good communication is more than one dimensional. Each dimension includes passive and active forms of communication. The first dimension includes the words that are being spoken. Emails are often one dimensional, as they usually don’t convey anymore information than what is written.

Another dimension is tone. While some tone can be received via the first dimension, it is not always accurate and can often complicate things.

The third dimension is body language. What we are doing with our faces, our hands, and bodies can tell stories much beyond the words coming out of our mouths.

Together it adds up to three-dimensional communication. Anything less than all three dimensions will be left to each person’s interpretation. The accuracy of that is debatable. Communication is everything to humans. We can’t live in a society with ineffective communication since every single thing is dependent upon it.

Our best chance at great communication is face-to-face. The next best thing is video conferencing. I do not recommend relying on an email chain to 10 people (or more) to provide clarity and information.

It’s also safe to say that we should never address anyone with an accusatory tone, or in any blaming fashion. It may well be one person’s fault for missing a cue, but berating him/her is not going to get produce the desired improvement. It will only breed resentment and bitterness. We must all have mutual respect for one another, and in particular, for the individuals who don’t necessarily work in our department.

The Sitch

Your pastor likes to mute and unmute his own microphone, something that makes you uncomfortable and anxious. How can you have him see it from your point of view? Communication! Some morning, well before a service, ask to have a quick discussion about it.

Things not to say include (but are not limited to):
— “I don’t trust you to turn it on and off.”
— “Last time you forgot and made me look stupid.”
— “You suck.”

Chuckles aside, the given examples are accusatory, selfish, and insulting at best. Truly put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you want someone to address this with you?

Some positive examples of this discussion include:
— “I’m a little worried about our recording being cut off because of an accidental mis-mute.”
— “How can I help make you feel comfortable enough to let me mute and unmute you from the board?”

Turn the conversation from “me versus you” to “How can I help?” This is a service industry, and people respond much more in-kind when questions or requests become about assistance rather than an accusation or a black-and-white solution.

How about this: you’re a guitarist in the worship band and you don’t like what the audio person is doing with your tone and your monitor is a wreck. You could absolutely accost the person and make them feel terrible. You’re frustrated, after all, and your feelings matter! But what will being angry achieve except distrust and bitterness?

Instead of saying:
— “My wedge is terrible. Can you fix it?”

Try something along the lines of:
— “My guitar is a little loud, and the singers are being drowned out in my wedge. Plus, it sounds very muddy. Is there anything we may be able to do to fix it? Can I personally do anything to fix it?”

This approach goes from blaming to teamwork. Now your audio person knows exactly what’s wrong, knows that you aren’t enjoying it, and that you’re both working together to create a solution.

These may seem like unnecessary changes, but the energy is worth it. Having solid communication between departments or between people can foster a fun and creative working environment where everyone feels like they are contributing and no one is being left behind.

Don’t shout what’s wrong over the mic. Don’t bring attention to mistakes in the middle of them. Plan, communicate, and execute. We’re all here to help each other, and we can all make some amazing productions if we attempt to elevate our relationships between one another.

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