Don’t miss out on happiness, success, joy, fun, shared meaning, peace, humor, deeper faith, and love. Learn to communicate more effectively. Communication is a skill that can be learned. If you work at it you can rapidly improve every area of your life.
The Word of God reveals incredible nuggets throughout scripture that help us understand the power of godly, positive, effective communication. James chapter 1 reminds us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. Chapter 3 speaks to the power of the tongue and its effect on our whole body, our own and the body of Christ. According to James, the misuse of our tongue can render our religion vain. Proverbs encourages soft answers to turn away wrath. Ephesians prays that nothing come out of our mouths except that which is good for building up. Through Proverbs we pray that our Lord set a guard over our mouth and watch over the door of our lips.
God watches over the door of our lips by providing us with God-given reason and abilities to be effective stewards of our communication. Here are some practical tips to help with communication at home, at work, and at play.
- First, it is important to know yourself. Know your history, your triggers, and your pet peeves. These things effect your response to others just as it effects other’s response to you. A person’s response to you has more to do with them than with you and thus your response to someone else has more to do with you than with them.
- Just because you feel that way doesn’t mean you get to act that way. Your brain stores emotional memories connected with every event in your life. This stored memory is just the emotion. It does not include a date, time, or person involved. Therefore, whenever you encounter something or someone in your present that is similar to your past, good or bad, your brain immediately says; “Hey when you encounter ‘this’ you feel ‘this’. Thus the present moment carries the emotions of the past. You need to know this so you use your god-given reason brain to not allow yourself to speak or respond based on your emotions alone. Doing so would be to put the emotion of the past on the present situation making the situation worse. Just because you feel that way does not mean you get to act that way.
- Are you an Introvertive or an Extrovertive communicator? There are two ways of processing what you are thinking. An Extrovert processes their thoughts out loud. An Introvert processes their thoughts in their mind. The Extrovert feels they have shared all they have and have received nothing in return from the Introvert. The Introvert shares little to nothing out loud and feels overwhelmed with too much information from the Extrovert. Help From A Professional Counselor can help you learn to honor each others communication style bringing joy back into your conversations.
- ‘Sacramentalize’ your communication. Reflective listening is a way of making ‘visible’ the ‘invisible’. When we reflect out loud what the other person has said to us we ‘show’ that person that what they said was heard and thus they feel important, validated, loved. To express the invisible reality of our commitment to God we go through rites in which we use our body and our words to show the invisible relationship with and commitment to God. Reflective listening similarly uses our words to show our commitment to listening and loving the other person. Help from a counselor can get you and your loved one on the road to ‘sacramental’ conversations.
- Keep your ‘but’ out of it. It is important to not “But” each other. When reflecting what the other person said rather than saying; “You said blah blah blah; But I think blah blah blah” just pause or use “and”. The word “but” sets up a relationship of difference in power or importance. The statement after the “but” takes priority over the statement before the word “but”.
Take these 3 statements for example:
“I heard you say you would like to spend time with family during the holidays.” “But I like to have quiet down time.”
“I heard you say you would like to spend time with family during the holidays.” “I like to have quiet down time.”
“I heard you say you would like to spend time with family during the holidays.” “And I like to have quiet down time.”
Read those three statements out loud. Which one is easiest to receive and expresses equal importance and validity of the two different perspectives or desires?
- Be “other” focused more than content focused. It is important to have more concern for the person you are talking with than the content of which you are talking. People before things.
- Claim, don’t blame. Say “I” not “you”. “I am feeling overwhelmed and need a break before I say something that I don’t want to because I don’t want to hurt you and us.” Versus “You are ticking me off. You are making me so mad that you are about to cause real problems for us. You need to stop talking and go away.” Accept your emotions and be responsible for yourself. Claiming not blaming reduces the reaction of self-defensiveness from the other person. You can only change yourself anyway. Don’t allow yourself to be thrown off sides by the other person’s behaviors and words. If you feel your emotions getting heightened; claim it and take a break to get yourself together.
- Examination of Communication conscience. At the end of the day as you are examining your conscience, considering your actions of the day; specifically review how you communicated with people that day; in person, on the phone, texting, Facebook and any other social media. Make it a daily practice to pray specifically for your ability to communicate effectively and with charity at home, at work, and at play.
- What’s the DIF? As you apply these effective communication skills each day identify if the Duration of your ‘bad’ conversations have decreased. Has the Intensity of the negative interaction or level of negative emotion decreased. And has the Frequency of unhealthy conflict decreased. Don’t expect immediate conversion to only happy, healthy, emotionally controlled discussions. Look for changes in the Duration; Intensity and Frequency of those unhealthy communications that you are working to improve.
Now you can be a perfect communicator! Perfection is not always being and doing right and never making a mistake. Perfect is humbling yourself to admit your shortcomings, seek forgiveness, learn from your mistakes, and try again to do things the right way. Perfection is humility and pursuit of what is right and good according to God. Be patient with yourself. “My brothers, when you have fallen into various trials, consider everything a joy, knowing that the proving of your faith exercises patience, and patience brings a work to perfection, so that you may be perfect and whole, deficient in nothing” (Js 1:2). Don’t miss out on the many blessings that come with effective holy communicating. Put these tips into practice. Consider finding a counselor you can trust to help you and maybe your loved one learn these skills together.
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