Summary: When communicating with volunteers, sometimes clarification is needed. Listen and repeat back what you are hearing, so others can clarify if that’s what they were actually sending and intending.

I want to tell you about the wonders of the McDonald’s Drive Thru language. Now, many, many, many, many years ago, McDonald’s was finding a lot of lost revenue as people were going through the drive thru, they were getting their food from the drive thru, paying for their food at the drive thru, and then driving off only to realize that they did not get what they ordered.

Hear me out. You see McDonald’s made a startling revelation that it was a breakdown in communication that caused not only a loss in revenue but caused the people who were getting their food to be disappointed and frustrated. McDonald’s made an amazing realization and their solution to this problem now is used in relationship studies. It’s used in counseling and even in psychology with relationships and it’s called the McDonald’s Drive Thru Method.

They simply asked the customer, “Now, you wanted a Coke, small fries and a quarter pounder?” And the person in the car would say “Not at all. I wanted a Diet Coke, a medium fry and a quarter pounder.” To which the drive thru person would say “Fantastic. You wanted a Coke, a small fry and a quarter pounder.” “NO! I wanted a Diet Coke, a medium fry and a quarter pounder.”

At the end of the day, it’s simply clarifying communication. Let me give you a challenge. In your next opportunity - whether it’s with a spouse, or a staff person, or even a volunteer, or possibly a parent in your ministry - as they say something to you, simply repeat back what you heard from them, and ask for clarity. It is amazing. What you hear is often not what they were sending. My encouragement to you: review, and listen, and then repeat back what you heard from them to clarify that’s what they were sending and intending. I call it McDonald’s Drive Thru communication.