Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills Workshops Diane Williams About 10 years ago I was searching for some resources to help me in my role as member care provider with YWAM. I came across Dr. Kelly O’Donnell’s book Missionary Care. One of the chapters mentioned a workshop called Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills. It took some time to track down where the workshops were held, and how to attend one. But believe me, it was worth it. Finding this workshop was a godsend. Not only did it help me in my ministry of helping others, but also helped me in my own personal life as well. I’ve since gone on to take training from International Training Partners in facilitating these workshops. Trainers from International Training Partners have come from the U.S. twice to train a number of other facilitators from different missions in India as well. They will be coming again this year. What is it? You might be wondering what this workshop is all about. It is an interactive 5 day workshop that helps us to improve our knowledge, attitudes and skills in relating to others, whether it be our family members, our co-workers, people of other cultures, or the communities in which we live. Participants work together in pairs, small groups and in the whole group. They observe skills and practice them with each other. The best methods of adult education are utilized so that maximum learning and skills building takes place. Foundations – The workshops has been developed over a period of 30 years, based on Dr. Ken Williams (SIL and International Training Partners, U.SA) experience in counselling, training and Bible translation. The knowledge, attitudes and skills are based on the practical application of the Word of God. Partnering Organizations Over eighty organizations worldwide have qualified facilitators who can provide these workshops, including those from IMA, Campus Crusade, IEM, Interserve, and YWAM, among others. Dozens of missionaries in India have gone through the SYIS. MUT has also hosted workshops here in India. Shanti and JJ Ratnakumar have attended a workshop themselves. The topics that we cover in the workshops are arranged around four major areas – LISTENING SKILLS Loving Listening: Loving listening is the cornerstone of effective relationships. True loving listening is a skill that must usually be learned. We demonstrate how not to listen, and how to listen more effectively. Then the participants have an opportunity to practice loving listening. They become aware of what level other people may be on and how to respond appropriately. Specific skills and behaviors are presented to keep in mind when listening to others. Drawing people out: Drawing others out is a vital step in ministering to them. The key to drawing a person out lies in the "bubbles" he or she brings to the surface. Bubbles on a lake indicate that something is underneath that is not obvious. When something is important to us, we send up bubbles to see if anyone will notice and be interested. Bubbles are a direct line to the heart. The concept of bubbles is explained and demonstrated. Participants discuss and practice four key ways to respond to bubbles: silence, questions, self-disclosure and observations. Helping Others Solve Problems: When someone comes with a problem, people are often tempted to give advice on what the other person should do. But this probably isn't the most helpful to them. In this session, we learn seven steps for helping others explore options, so they can come up with a solution themselves. Participants watch a demonstration where one person helps another solve a problem. Then they practice using the seven steps with a partner, on either a real or hypothetical problem. CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILLS Confronting: For many people, confrontation is the most difficult part of relating to others, yet it is essential to godly relationships. God's Word is filled with confrontations and has much to say on the subject. This session guides participants through biblical guidelines and skills on how to confront others, from preparing for the confrontation, to steps to take when confronting. Both verbal and nonverbal ways to handle resistance when confronting are considered. The demonstrations and practice in confronting effectively help us become more comfortable and effective in confronting others when necessary. Receiving Confrontation: Receiving confrontation well is just as important, and often even harder, than giving confrontation, especially when we are confronted in anger. In this session the participants discover biblical ways to diffuse an attack. Demonstrations show how to respond effectively and what to avoid doing when confronted in anger. Participants can dramatically see the difference that their reaction has when they are confronted in anger. Then they practice the skill in pairs. Managing our Conflicts: Conflicts with others are rarely easy to handle. This session starts by looking at some core beliefs about healthy relationships and conflict. We then discuss biblical ground rules for effective conflict resolution, as well as a suggested step-by-step strategy for managing conflicts. This strategy helps to slow the process down, and reduces inappropriate expression of feelings. Demonstrations help participants see effective ways to handle conflicts and what to avoid when in conflict. Helping Others Manage Conflicts: We sometimes observe others experiencing conflict that they are unable to resolve on their own. This session gives participants two strategies to help others who are in conflict. The first strategy is helping one person who comes to us; the second is being a mediator between two people with a conflict. Each contains specific steps to take. Two demonstrations illustrate these strategies, followed by a discussion of the demonstrations and practical application of how this skill can be used in our own lives. SKILLS FOR LIVING IN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY Building Personal Trust: Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship, including family, work, friendships, and even God! Yet trust has so often been broken that many find it hard to trust anyone. This session considers the significance of being able to trust others, as well as being trustworthy ourselves. It looks at things we do to destroy trust, and things that build trust. Building trust is important both on the individual level and on an organizational level. The materials include worksheets on building trust with issues to consider on our own and also issues to discuss with family, friends or co-workers. Living in Community: God's Word has much to say about how we are to act with other Christians. This module examines three positive elements of living in community: loving, bearing with others, and forgiving. It also analyzes four destructive elements: comparing ourselves with others, judging, gossip and slander. The reality of both the positive and the negative elements comes alive in a new way as participants discuss them and examine these issues personally. A demonstration graphically illustrates the destructive power of not living well in community. Participants have the opportunity to practice stopping gossip or slander. They end with a personal audit on these issues in their own lives. Helping Others Grieve Well: People often associate grief only with death, but any significant loss can bring about grief and needs appropriate grief work. The focus of this session is on understanding grief, not only for managing our own grief well, but also to enable us to help others manage theirs. The group examines each stage of the grief process and considers the importance of not skipping any stages. The session ends with an opportunity for participants to share in pairs something they are grieving over and pray for each other. Being an Encourager: Encouraging others is "love with feet on it." This issue is so important that God mentions it many times in His Word and even commands that we do it every day. But do we take it as seriously as He does? This session leads participants through an understanding of why encouragement is so important to God. They have the opportunity to explore practical ways to encourage others in small groups and the large group. They also write a note of encouragement to someone. Participants leave with a fresh understanding of the incredible results that can come from a small investment of time and energy through encouragement. SKILLS FOR LONG-TERM MINISTRY EFFECTIVENESS AND ENJOYMENT The Battle for Moral Purity: The growing moral breakdown among Christians is alarming. Satan now blatantly tempts us to immorality in ways that would have been ineffective only a few years ago. Each person is responsible not only to engage personally in spiritual warfare to resist sexual temptation, but to help others to effectively do battle in this arena. This session reminds us to be aware that we are all susceptible to sexual temptation. We look at the dynamics of sexual temptation and end with building a strategy for ongoing moral purity. The purpose of this session is not to bring guilt. We focus not on the past, but on building a strategy for maintaining moral purity in the future. Managing Stress: Stress affects everyone, and a joyful, productive life depends on having skills for handling it well. These sessions provide an understanding of how stress works and how our perception dramatically affects the amount of stress we feel. They also supply strategies from God’s Word on how to manage stress well. Participants have the opportunity to: a) identify their own stressors; b) look at their reactions to stress; c) learn how to handle their own distresses, d) identify and use both spiritual and natural resources for managing stress, and much more. We look at scriptural examples to see how Jesus and others handled stress. Practical applications help individuals learn how to lower the stress that is under their control, and learn to better manage the stress situations they cannot change. Maintaining Margin: Margin is a sufficient reserve of time, energy and money to provide for our needs and the needs of others. Margin is as essential as food, air and water. Without it people begin to wither and die: emotionally, spiritually and interpersonally. This session begins with a small group Bible study, looking at examples from Jesus' life and discussing principles we learn from Him. One serious consequence of not maintaining margin is burnout. Participants take a Burnout Inventory to discover where they are. Through small group and whole group discussion as well as reflection, participants begin to build their own strategy to maintain more margin in their lives. Each topic is approached from a Biblical perspective. Taking this workshop has helped me tremendously in my ministry, especially the topics on helping others solve problems, helping people others manage conflict, and of course, the sessions on managing stress. One topic that many people have appreciated was Maintaining Margin, meaning have enough time, energy and money for unexpected things that come up in our lives. In this session we look at what depletes our energy, and what we can do to build it up again. This workshop comes highly recommended around the world. It is well worth taking the time and effort to attend. One mission leader in the U.S., Dr. Ben Sells of International Mission Board writes: “The SYIS workshop is a key feature of our leadership development architecture. The biblical foundation, mission context, skill orientation and adult learning approach are a powerful combination. Taken to heart, SYIS helps people to further reflect the Kingdom in their personal lives as well as extend the kingdom by helping people minister together more effectively. We believe in this workshop. That is why we’ve trained a global network of facilitators.” For more information, you can contact IMA member care coordinator Pramila Rajendran here in India at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website of International Training Partners www.relationshipskills.com I’ve also brought some flyers about the workshop for you to take home.