By Annabel Foery, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALEXANDRIA, VA (ANS – June 29, 2017) — At a workshop for elders at a church in Torrington, Conn. Jill Kamp Melton, of Arlington, VA, challenged the board of directors of a non-profit group: “Let’s trigger a tsunami of transformation in the way people listen and speak to one another.” “Instead of taking offense when we disagree, let’s be intentionally curious as to what they think and why and try to find common ground.”
Jill has a calling to help others listen, be heard and become more effective in their relationships with others. She has authored two editions of the book The Power of the Zip; the first edition The Power of the Zip in a Heavenly Light came to her as she became aware of the serious lapse in civil discourse and recognized that all truth can be found in the Bible. The main focus of that edition is based on creating understanding and unity in personal and group settings. “Successful conversation and confrontation doesn’t mean coming into total agreement” she said. “It is learning the skills to hear what is actually said, and not allow our opinions to take precedent over facts. Successful conversation means giving up our need to be right – understanding the other point of view so that the other feels their views have been heard”.
Referring to the Book of Job, Jill pointed out that when Job was at his lowest trying to understand what had happened in his life, his friends came and sat with him for 7 days without saying anything (the ancient Jewish custom of ‘sitting shiva’). It was only when they started speaking that discord arose!
The current edition of the book The Power of the Zip, Trigger a Tsunami of Transformation – One Conversation at a Time came about when she began working with diverse groups of people in the fields of law enforcement, aviation, local city governments, and civic organizations. These groups did not want to have the overt Christian references so Jill, recognizing that Truth is Truth, wrote this edition. In it she sets out challenging perspectives to trigger change in society: “All communities become dysfunctional when words cause verbal violence and threaten civil violence” she said. “We need to learn to use language with the skill of a crisis negotiator and listen as though every word you hear were a matter of life and death.”
The group of eight church elders in Connecticut was typical of many groups that Jill has worked with. Taking offense when others disagree instead of finding common ground, organizations tend to crumble, split apart, and to get stuck in anger instead of finding ways to get along. A short time into the seminar, the participants were finding “Ah hah” moments right and left, identifying things they should stop doing, start doing and continue doing. And they pledged to become a coaching culture, coaching one another to productive, bridge-building behaviors.
They came to realize that they were using criticism as feedback to one another instead of considering feedback as “What you saw, what you heard and the impact that it had.” Jill emphasized that “feedback is a gift. If it doesn’t feel like a gift, it isn’t feedback.”
The group quickly grasped that using the techniques in The Power of the Zip has the potential to change the way small and large groups communicate. Instead of unintentionally making one another angry and separating one from another, they can intentionally find common ground and begin to love and know one another with respect and curiosity.
Rev. Carolyn Swift Jones from Torrington, CT., was impressed that this process can trigger big changes in a short bit of time. Her group wants more work sessions like this not only for their benefit but for the benefit of the community at large.
The next speaking engagement for Jill is the 75th reunion of Buck’s Rock Performing Arts Camp in New Milford, Connecticut, July 30, 2017. Invited to present a workshop for the alumni campers, Jill is able to weave a group of people who don’t know one another into a cohesive community. Using two assessments from The Power of the Zip — by analyzing what you like to talk about and what the people you interact with most frequently like to talk about, people can prepare for potential disconnects and learn to connect with others, even those with whom they think they have nothing in common.
The Chamber of Commerce in North Miami Beach was the last group Jill addressed in the spring of 2017 and the attendees saw how their businesses would benefit from these insights. Since 90% of the complaints businesses get are from the “meet and greet” phase of their first interactions, learning to connect with people can affect how successful a business can become.
Wherever she speaks, Jill asks, “How many of you agree that just because you said something, doesn’t mean it was heard?” She also added, “Just because you wrote something doesn’t mean it was read or understood.”
Photo captions: 1) Jill Kamp Melton. 2) Book cover of original edition. 3) Most recent book cover. 4) Annabel Foery.
Annabel Foery, an English transplant to the USA, has been a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, learning to know the heart of God and encouraging others to do likewise. She lives in Alexandria Virginia and helps volunteer with hosting overseas guests at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.
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