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Meet People Where They Are

Meet People Where They Are

Moses receives the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Torah on Mount Sinai. He could have proclaimed it from the mountain as well. He could have lectured the Israelites from its comfortable perch.

Yet, Moses chooses another route. He goes amongst the people, teaching and embodying the law. He shows rather than tells.

This connection with the people was especially important at that moment because they had just witnessed God’s power at Sinai. They had seen the smoke and heard the thunder of God’s presence. By teaching and walking amongst them, Moses gives a human face to God’s presence. Moses makes the Torah real.

Moses was God’s ambassador if you will. He was God’s presence and tangible leader at the time.

Later we see Jesus come on to the scene. Whatever your beliefs, Jesus was alive in the flesh and made a profound and everlasting effect on people. He was and is arguably one of the most profound teachers ever. Talk about taking a complex, controversial, and totally contrarian view that was prevalent in His time and turning it on its head forever.

How do you connect with people? How do you take complex ideas and make them relevant?

  1. Go to where the people are.

It is essential to meet people where they are physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is not just a glib comment. There is no way in the world that you can make a real difference unless you stand beside people. You can’t make real communication unless you can empathize and understand where they are coming from. Furthermore, if your form of communication does not resonate with their way of communicating there will be no understanding, no connection. Imagine that you are traveling to Europe and you are coming from North America. No matter how hard you try, unless you have the proper adapters you are not going to recharge your cell phone. You need to be there, understand the type of current that is being used, and have the adapters and current modifiers to be able to plug your cell phone in to get it to connect with the local current – to recharge.

  1. Ask questions – before telling people what you think, get their attention, and ask what they think.

When I had my photography studio, I trained my team how to properly answer a telephone call. Yes, there is a proper way. First, you pause, clear your mind, put a smile on your face, then speak. How can you possibly communicate on one topic before your clear another topic out of your mind? The person on the other side of the line is waiting for the ringing to stop and are usually actually surprised to get a hold of a real person. You both need time to adjust. By pausing and putting a smile on your face you are providing a state change for your self and you are also producing a chemical (positive endorphin) change in your body.

When my staff started to speak it was Good morning/good afternoon (pause) thank you for calling Old Masters Studio (pause), this is Mary, how may I help you? Everyone had time to adjust, make sure they had the correct number, and get on the same wavelength in a positive, inviting way.

From there they had a list of questions to ask the caller so that they took control of the conversation so that they could help them the best way possible.

We need to know what our audience knows. We need to start at a place where they are comfortable and communicate in a way that they understand. It is not about being smarter, more worldly, or better than them it is about making sure that we are on an equal footing to be able to make a strong connection.

  1. Making that connection. We all know that generally, people are more likely to respond to thoughts and feelings. While there are some people who prefer logic and science the majority base their decisions on emotion.

We need to start by understanding their existing frames of reference so that we can connect any new ideas and thoughts to something they already understand. Often this new framing takes time and patience to be adopted by someone. Rushing or pressing does not produce any win/win relationships.

Speaking to people’s hearts with stories and examples goes a lot farther than overwhelming them with science and statistics. Science and statistics often overwhelm people and lead to frustration, frustration leads to shutting down.

  1. Modeling shows people how and lets them see why.

Jesus provided many stories and examples of what He was speaking about to illustrate His point. He walked His walk and talked his talk. Do as I say not as I do, does not go extremely far. Today, many of our leaders lack integrity, honesty, and transparency. They can see sincerity a mile away and by embodying those characteristics we build an immediate connection.

Caring comes before sharing. Being there for your team, on their terms, their time, and their needs goes a long way to modeling.

  1. People inherently want to make a difference, know that what they are doing is important, and ultimately is bigger than themselves.

Sharing with people why they are going to do, what they do, and the difference it makes goes a long way to creating that bond. As the saying goes, “If your why is big enough, you will find you how.”

Look at young Greta Thunberg. At 15, she started her own personal rallying cry for people to look closer at their environment and to take proactive changes. She started with her own parents and encouraged them to make lifestyle changes. From there she met people at their own level – her fellow students and encouraged them to make a difference. They rallied and criticized the government and governments started to listen. Within one year she was standing in front of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and spoke there.

  1. Create systems so that your intention has staying power and support.

Jesus did that when He sent the apostles out two by two to evangelize. He gave them specific instructions, ways to respond to different circumstances, and the tools to do their job. Obviously, it worked. From one the belief system now has grown to billions worldwide. They had a plan, worked the plan, and with proper communication and examples changed an entire mindset – forever.

          7. Persistence with gentle intent

We all know that if we don’t want to change our minds we won’t. Nobody can change our mind for us. All that can be done is to provide more information, new information, or the same information in a different way so that we can make a different decision. Change happens from the inside out not by pounding it into someone and barraging them with facts and figures.

Forcing values, beliefs, and behavior has never worked. Modeling, sharing, illustrating go a long way to exacting change.

I am certain that you read nothing new, but perhaps you saw it in a different way. It is all about building a relationship. We start with one and let it grow from there. Whether you are sharing your faith, business idea, or moving your corporation forward, all it takes is one relationship to take root and more to follow. Invite people to talk, challenge them, and finally encourage them – always.


Chuck Groot is an author, speaker, teacher. His love of God has spanned over 6 decades and he finds the more he studies the Bible, the less he knows, the more he succeeds the more dependant on God he becomes, and that there is nothing outside of loving God our Father, and being loved in return.


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