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I have a bit of unusual situation in that I am a direct to a senior pastor of a church. I know that most of the discussions on Manager Tools is oriented towards the for-profit world but I believe many of the same principles apply. That being said, I have a situation where I am in charge of the largest ministry program in our church and I report directly to the senior pastor. He and I have been friends for years and I really enjoy his friendship and leadership.

However, there is one behavior he has that I find very annoying--"his poking me with the umbrella"as M&M would say. Because of our schedules most of our communication is asynchronous--i.e., email. Because I am a high "C" in DiSC when I write emails I usually lay-out a detailed plan or ask many questions. I think my senior pastor is a moderate "D" and moderate "i" so often his replies to me are very short or he only answers the first question or two.

On one recent occasion I emailed him a question and his one word response was "k" as in Ok. I asked a couple of staff members if they had ever gotten emails with that response and they said yes.

I have modified my email style with my senior pastor over the past couple of years to fit his style more. But, there are times when a quick question or couple of bullet points won't do.

So, I have two questions:
1. Should I talk to him about the brevity of some of his answers--especially the "k" response? Or, should I just let it go?

2. Do any of you have some further recommendations for me to modify my communication style to work more effectively with him?

I appreciate any assistance you can give. Thanks.

jhack's picture

I'm a high D, High I.

It's OK to send lots of detail - just make sure it's in the appendix.

When I say "k," I mean "OK," which is to say, I agree, and I'm on board, and I'll support you. I have only a limited number of keystrokes before I die, and I'm going to leverage them!

Get over it. You're trusted because you master the details. Me going into detail about WHY I agree is pointless.

Now, if you need a decision, then say so. Here's a good email to High D, High I:

"John,

I need two decisions from you:
1. What time is dinner?
2. Where will we eat?

I recommend 7pm at Peter Lugar's. There are some other recommendations below if you want some other choices.

Thanks,

Jill

PS: I looked up restaurants in Zagats, and blah blah blah...."

John will likely respond: "k"

Get to the point right away, list your key questions, and then fill in the detail below the line. You'll have better communications right away.

Your senior pastor isn't going to change.

John

Peter.westley's picture

John has it:

Communicate for the receiver. Adjust [b]your [/b]style temporarily to meet the needs of the receiver.

Add the detail at the end if you must, but understand that it's there for [b]your [/b]edification only, and don't expect it to get read...

Also, don't get frustrated when he comes back to you asking for details or clarification on data you put in the message in the first place. Smile, accept it, give him the info (quickly and succinctly) and move on.

Your ability to move towards your communicatee (is that a word? ;-) ) is what's called flexibility. When you are flexible, you are a better person. The other person sees you as meeting [b]their[/b] needs. They trust you more, the relationship strengthens... etc etc

HMac's picture

[quote="eschenk"]I have modified my email style with my senior pastor over the past couple of years to fit his style more. But, there are times when a quick question or couple of bullet points won't do.[/quote]

Won't do for your boss, or for [i]you[/i]? It doesn't sound like your pastor is dissatisfied with the style and depth of the communications, so I'll suggest that it's [i]your [/i]discomfort you're aware of, not his.

I'm a High D / High i - Here are the two the great things about working with us: if we're unhappy about something, we'll let you know. And we can be really good at cutting to the chase. To continue the example from earlier:

High D/ High i Boss: Thanks for suggesting this place. Don't bother with the menu for me. Would you mind ordering for me while I take this call? Just tell the waiter:
[list]For two
Bacon
Extra spinach[/list:u]He'll know what to do.

-Hugh

eschenk's picture

Phew! Thanks for the feedback...you are all correct, it is my uncomfortability with his communication style. I guess as a C my first inclination is to think, "What, you did not even get to paragraph 17...you must not be taking me seriously!" (just kidding about paragraph 17) :)

As I stated previously, I have modified my style to accomodate him. For instance I usually only send my first question or two and then he and I have a "running" email dialogue about the details.

But, I see what you are saying...I know he trusts me or I would not be the director of this ministry program. But the C in me wants confirmation and concurrence from him.

One other thing, I would like some feedback from some other "C"s if possible on how they deal with "D"s and "i"s.

Ok, one last C question (always looking for more info): any other recommendations?

kklogic's picture

Just wanted chime in as yet another high D, high I. Ditto what the others have said -- and please know that he is complimenting you by trusting that you're doing your thing and he's doing his. I practically bow to the high C's of the world. Thank Heavens you're there living in the details.

WillDuke's picture

Just to throw in another $0.02, I'm not a high D, and I'd still prefer the brief email. (High I, High S)

I love a High C. (And not just the fruit juice) But I don't want all that detail. With that much detail I might as well just do it myself. Tell me what the answer is and the primary reason why. Then, if I want to know other things, I'll query you. Be ready for the query, but I usually don't really care. I'll query you less and less as time goes by and I trust that you have considered all the options.

Oh, and if you have a lot of different questions - send different emails. I suppose 2 questions in 1 email is okay, but it's a lot easier to say "k" or "no" to one question in one email than to have to go down and identify which answer is to which question in a 3 page list. I'm so over it by the 3rd question I stopped reading. :)

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="eschenk"]

Ok, one last C question (always looking for more info): any other recommendations?[/quote]

Yes. Use BLUF (bottom line up front) in your email communications. Your point/question gets lost when you bury it after 4 paragraphs of background. A high "D" will gloss over it anyway.

Look, when a boss gets 80-200 messages a day...there is no time for reading long messages. Keep 'em short and you will be more effective.

lazerus's picture