King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”
Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. Esther 7:5-7
Once Xerxes understood the severity of the situation, he asked the question, “Who?” At this point, Esther’s job wasn’t to intrigue him, but to very directly get him up to speed. He was ready to hear it now.
If Esther had started the conversation with finger pointing, Xerxes might have directed his energies toward defending his right-hand man, Haman. But, because Xerxes understood the seriousness of the matter, he was willing to take on whoever had brought this about. He wanted to defend his queen and her people. At this point, he could handle the truth.
Often we are guilty of answering questions that others aren’t asking. People don’t want to be talked at, they want to be engaged.
A few years ago, our team at Lifetogether.com led 17 conferences calls per week for all of the churches participating in 40 Days of Purpose and 40 Days of Community through Saddleback Church. The pastors on these calls had just received their campaign kits and were completely overwhelmed by what they had taken on. Our job was to equip them and talk them off of the ledge.
One of the call moderators would start in giving instructions and 60 minutes later would take questions. It was fire hose to face for sure. So, on some of the calls we opted for a different approach. We started the call by asking questions. What we found was that the participants were much more engaged, and to our surprise, we covered the same material as the lecturer.
What do the people around you need to hear? Rather than assuming that you know, listen to their questions. When are they teachable? When is it information overload? If you can answer their questions rather than lecturing them, the answers will stick.
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