How Not to Give Criticism

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I’ll get to the point, just wait a minute.

Okay…no matter how old I get…I still keep learning something. Whether I want to or not.

I needed to hand out criticism to a committee member. What I would like to use is the kick-butt approach:It goes like this: ” For the love of St. Pete, we’re talking about the book fundraiser, Lulu. After the meeting is over, we can talk about  your achy knee and  strange-mole problem and all the books you’ve used to diagnosis yourself..”

I’ve used this kick-butt technique a couple of times. I felt kind of skunky afterward..  But no one was insulted enough to volunteer to take over chairing the meeting, which would’ve been a nice side benefit to offset the skunky feeling..

So I switched to the ol’ interrupt-and-refocus technique.

“LuLu what in blithereens does your topic have to do with what we’re talking about— which at the moment, is the BOOK FUNDRAISER?”

Again I feel skunky for such a shut-up-and-get-with-the-topic approach. But that quickly goes away because LuLu can relate anything to the latest topic. She simply says (quite officiously) “Well, just wait…I’m getting to that.”

Five minutes and four doctor visits later, she finally reports that she has books that didn’t help at all and she’s going to put them in the book-fundraiser…if we ever get one planned.

So finally I used the OREO technique. (A suggestion for improvement is sandwiched between a couple of compliments)

“Lulu, wow that sounds like you’ve really done a lot of thorough research into in-grown toenail problems. How about you  hold those thoughts until we finish talking about the fundraiser,then we can hear your amazing information after the meeting.”

Mother Mary, Joseph, and all the baby donkeys!!!! It worked. WhooHoo. (and no skunky feeling)

There’s only one catch. I have to hang around after the meeting and listen to the FULL info dump on toenails.

I learned more than I ever wanted to know. But I figure someday it’ll be me, blathering on about the ridges in my fingernails or accidental  farts or how I don’t sleep well during a full moon.

Someday I may be lonely and the only way I know how to relieve my desperate ache is to join committees so I can be with people and hijack  conversations so I can talk about myself.

I hope they know the OREO Technique.

By Ismael Nieto

By Ismael Nieto

Have you ever dealt with a conversation hijacker?

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Dinner for the Exhausted

You know how I love change, (cough, cough).  Well, I’m sure the Kitchenettes, those brave ladies who clean the church kitchen, are gonna love the Exhaust Burger Dinner. As a matter of fact, it’ll change every busy man or woman’s life.

No more rushing home from

I hope I have time to stop and get some potato salad

  • Work
  • Committee Meetings
  • Choir
  • Gym

to cook dinner. A home-cooked meal is just a drive around the block, a few times with the …..

Exhaust Burger

Add the burger in the handy-dandy pocket. It’s not cooked by the fumes, but by the heat generated by those fumes as you drive your car.

Sorry, only one burger at a time, but if traffic is bad…you can hop out while I-5 looks like a parking lot and change those patties. (Hint: Keep a foil pouch in the back seat and toss the cooked burgers in.)

Featured in Design Boom in 2008, I’m just not sure why it doesn’t come standard with a new car purchase. Smiley  How do you get dinner on the table on a busy night?

To Paper or To Plate: That’s the Question

We were packing boxes to send to missionaries and behind us, at another table, was a Vera-type-gal, a micro-manager of the Universe.  She was organizing the Ladies’ for an upcoming reception, “And of course, we must use the nice plates, and the good glasses.  Nancy Sue will you iron the tablecloths and napkins?”

Heavens to mergatroid. Poor Nancy Sue  I thought.  I haven’t used my iron in…well, let’s just say I think it still works. Last time I used it was to create melted crayon crafts. I leaned over to my packing partner and whispered, “That’s a lot of frou-frou.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’s why I never volunteer for those things.”

Now obviously, I was born without a Martha Stewart gene, but it got me thinking, with all the coffee hours, receptions, mid-week suppers, etc., we’d get more volunteers if we’d use disposables. So what’s the better choice? Hence…

THE CERAMIC VS PAPER WAR

Being frugal Lutherans, most of our matched plates and flatware came from saving boxtops. (Everyone keep eating…we need 10 more sets of service.)

Ceramic/Glass Benefit

  • Their production and delivery have a carbon foot print, but it’s a one-time thing.
  • They have to be washed. (Blah…like we all don’t have enough washing in our lives). But according to GreenGoPost.com dishwashers have become more energy and water efficient. (Obviously they’ve never watched the youth wash dishes).  Of course they caution if you run the dishwasher with only a cup and a spoon inside, it’s not too cost-effective, but the nature of most Lutherans is to fill that machine up until it looks like a steam-punk contraption. We know how to get the most soap out of a buck.
  • The threat of bacteria spreading is most likely not an issue unless we’re experiencing a horrible disease like cholera or maybe contamination by zombies.  Basic hygiene still applies.

Paper Plate Benefit

  • Disposable. No clean up. Hooray. But…here comes the rain on my dancing-dish parade…we’ll be buying them again and again. More production, transportation and bigger carbon footprint.
  • So, we’ll just recycle, yes?  No, not really. Usually soiled plates can’t be recycled and not all grades of plastic can be recycled. “Even if your community could recycle each and every disposable fork or cup,” says Leon Kaye of GreenGoPost, “they still require energy–and water–to create new batches of paper or plastic goods.”  And then there’s the bags of garbage after an event, percolating gas and goop like the eggs in an Alien movie.

So my lazy bones stand corrected. Ceramic and metal flatware is the winner.

It’s wise stewardship for money, attitude, and planet. “Think single purchase, not single use,” says Kaye.

Okay…I may volunteer for clean-up, but I’m still not ironing.

How has your church or organization solved the problem?

Thanks to Leon Kaye, editor and founder of GreenGoPost.com. Check it out for more info.

Lutheran Ladies Confused, Overused, and Never Schmoozed

English: Vacation Bible School at the Monsey C...

As much as I grumble about change, sometimes expectations need to take a flying leap into the nearest disposal.

During a Council meeting, we discovered the Ladies’ Circle was branded with certain expectations.

Committee members were making reports of “happenings” which went something like this…

1)      “Well, this church is going to host an all-day hospitality workshop for the district. And we’re working with the Ladies’ Circle to provide lunch and snacks.”

Sounds  exciting. Next report….

2)      “There’s a Memorial Service on Friday.  The Ladies’ Circle will provide a meal for family and friends.”

They always honor the families with such a wonderful gift.  Next report

3)      “The church needs a new heating unit, so we’d like to have BBQ fundraiser. Or maybe a strawberry shortcake feed.  We’re trying to get the Ladies’ Circle to help with the details, but they’re slow in getting back to me.”

Let us know when you get it worked out.  Next report on volunteers.

 4)      “Well, we’re having trouble getting volunteers for coffee hour.  Maybe the Ladies’ Circle will fill in when no one signs up?”

And

5)      “We could use help providing the snacks for Vacation Bible School, but a number of the women in the Ladies’ Circle say they aren’t going to be around….”

Okay…when the litany of requests line-up, the expectations become obvious.  Often, IF it has to do with food, some people think a gangle of church ladies are standing by, bowls and spatulas in hand, waiting to whip up…and even more importantly…clean up.

Usually the ladies consider it an honor to help out. A gift.  And it is—until everyone starts expecting that it’s their job.

In this day when so many of the women work and those that are retired are traveling, sometimes there aren’t enough hands to do all the great projects everyone else comes up with.

 HOW TO FIX IT?  (Because we love to fix things).

  • Change expectations.   Just because it has to do with kitchens, coffee, or food, doesn’t mean it’s a Ladies’ Circle “thing.”  One of the best fundraisers I’ve been to was a men’s chili cook-off. Probably because men were cooking and cleaning, but it was totally worth the money to watch.
  • And it’s great when different groups host coffee meet/greet.  The 3rd/4th Grade hosted coffee hour by baking animal cookies one Sunday and serving the next Sunday. I think there was a lesson about Noah in there somewhere, but it sure got a lot of different people involved.
  • But…what if “nobody wants to do it?”  That’s tough one.  Rather than asking the same people over and over until they burn out, perhaps it’s time to change the expectation that it must be done.   And that’s how change comes about.   Some people will be shocked into volunteering when they find out the annual rummage sale isn’t taking place because no one else wanted to organize it.  And if no one volunteers?  Perhaps it’s time for a break? Let it go for a while.
  • Lastly, When’s the last time you thanked the Ladies’ Circle?  Or the Property Committee? or the the Sunday School Teachers?  Or….. you get the idea. I mean really thanked them, in addition to  hurling a few bodacious words their way.

    This image was selected as a picture of the we...

    This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Czech Wikipedia for th week, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A card. A cookie is nice. Yes indeed, people are usually willing to volunteer. It’s a gift. But when a contribution is taken for granted,  it tends to fray the bow on the present.

If you wanted to say thanks and schmooze your Lutheran Ladies’ Circle today, (or your favorite volunteer group), I’m sure it would be appreciated.  And remember: Chocolate is always welcome.