“Let your speech always be with grace, [as though] seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col 4:6 NASB).
“but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all [aspects] into Him who is the head, [even] Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NASB).
They say that the three most important things in having a healthy relationship with another person is communication, communication, and communication. What makes communication to another person so hard?
The first problem is that most people are not good listeners. We don’t really focus and really pay attention to what others are saying. Many of us finish each other’s sentences, think we can read minds and are normally thinking about what we are going to say even before the other person has finished talking.
If you want to be heard, stop the inner traffic in your mind and focus on what the other person is saying. Communication only takes place when the thoughts that are in one person’s mind are expressed in words which the other person understands and then translates into thoughts in their mind that should then match what the person speaking was thinking. In addition, we have to want to be empathetic to not just how the other person thinks but how they feel. Only when two people share thoughts and feelings has communication taken place.
Remember that listening is not agreeing. I can listen to anyone, understand their thoughts and even have empathy with their feelings but not agree with their ideas. I can agree to disagree, agreeably.
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
When I am in an important conversation or if I think that a misunderstanding has taken place, I can attempt to “Echo” back in my own words what I understood the other person to be saying and ask them to tell me what they think I am saying. This simple process can end the frustration of getting into a heated discussion only for someone to say at the end “but that isn’t even what I meant.”
Another key is to not make accusations or assertions of facts but simply to say things from a perspective of “I think, I feel, I believe or I am,” which no one can debate you on since you are simply giving self-testimony. People don’t get defensive when you are simply attempting to share who you are with them.
When a conversation has to lead to a joint decision being made by those talking, it is important to be solution focused instead of attempting to convert everyone to your way of thinking. You should make your case but only after you have listened so well you could make their case as well as they can for their point of view. It is possible that when open and calm discussions take place that one person is converted to another person’s point of view, but if not then to find a solution we have to look for “a third alternative answer.” One that everyone will feel that they can comfortably live with. This is what is meant by a “Win/Win” solution.
As Christians we should seek a triple win, which would include Jesus also being happy with our choice.
To learn more about how to communicate well I will be speaking on “Learning How To Communicate” on Saturday Feb 29th at 5:30 p.m. at Lighthouse Community Fellowship, 9904 NW 77th Street, Tamarac, in the fellowship hall. This is a free seminar. Hope you can make it.
Norm Wise is executive director of Living Water Christian Counseling. He can be reached at livingwaterchristiancounseling.org