Communicating productively is one of the most important skills in life and in a good church. Effective communication is being willing to convey our honest thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and actions to others in a kind and active listening manner that reflects and glorifies Christ. This is the foundation of a successful marriage as well as a healthy church and an affirmative friendship. Without communication, a marriage or any relationship in the church, the workplace, or anywhere can never effectively work (Prov. 29:20; Matt. 21:22; Luke 8:18; Rom. 12:10; Eph. 4:15, 25-29; Col. 3:5,16, 4:6; 1 Tim. 4:12; James 1:19; 1 Peter 3).
Inarticulate, not listening, not expressing and not communicating are the opposites. These bad characters will hinder us from seeking to understand someone, which will lead to misunderstandings, conflict, and strife. God created us as communal beings to commune with Him and one another; we must do our best to seek this and without prejudice.
Communication is, in essence, all about giving and receiving a message. Whether we are deaf and mute or a polished public speaker, we all communicate. We send and receive messages every day to one another, many, many times each day. Preferably, we should desire to do this effectively, sincerely, and positively, but in most cases, the message sent is not always the message received by the other person, and rarely are the messages from the hearer and receiver identical.
Is the Character of Communication working in you?
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and fruit of Communication from God's most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:
1. How do I exhibit good Communication in my daily life?
2. What can I do to develop a better willingness to pursue effective Communication?
3. What blocks good Communication skills from working and being exhibited in me?
4. How can I make Communication function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture: Neh. 8:4-8; Prov. 12:17; 15:28; 16:32; Acts 6:8-10; Eph. 6:19-20; Heb. 3:7, 15
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: Prov. 15:28; 16:32; 18:13; Job 32:6-10; Zech. 8:16; James 4:11-12; 2 Pet .2: 10-12
What Can I Do To Be A Better Communicator?
1. Be willing to be open and honest. Be willing to express feelings about the other, and the desires, aspirations, and plans you see for yourself and for your partner. This will build communication and trust! If you cannot express yourself, then get help. Otherwise, it will only escalate from bad to worse. You cannot gain anything by lying or playing games!
2. Communication, as well as understanding and the willingness to work together to commune and solve problems must be a cornerstone of the relationship.
3. The care we give is usually more important than the words we say! Courtesy is contagious!
4. Show interest in others; be positive and sensitive, especially in a marriage. Do this by asking questions, listening to each other fully, and not dominating the conversation. When you see him or her again, remember the important details so you can bring up what was communicated before and ask how it is going, what you can do to help, and so forth.
5. Always communicate without blame; always show the love of Christ!
6. Seek first to understand what the other person is saying and make sure the other person feels understood; this inspires openness and trust.
7. Be sincere; saying what you mean and meaning what you say is the golden rule to effective and edifying communication.
8. You are only responsible for what you say and how you treat others; you are not responsible for what others say to you or how they treat you!
9. Be yourself; be genuine, honest and real. Do not pretend or be manipulative. Remember, integrity is imperative at all times!
10. When there are disagreements, explain your position with logical reasons for it. Do not jump to conclusions or be emotional or manipulative. Any good position will be open for comments, evaluation, criticism, and the opinions of others.
11. Make sure you hear the other's position correctly. If you are not sure, are confused, if it does not make sense, or it is incongruent, ask questions for clarification. Compliment the other person's idea, whether you agree or not, and be courteous. When giving a critique, be constrictive, positive, true, and respectful.
12. Paraphrase back what they said for clarity. If you think there is a misunderstanding brewing, ask a question, "May I restate what I am hearing from you?"
13. Be aware of your body language. Make sure you are not giving off negative signals or have a callous or insensitive tone. Remember, you may be doing this and not even realize it.
14. The choice of our words and the tone of them will have dramatic effects as it greatly affects the meaning, interpretation, and distortion of the message. Choose your words and tone carefully through prayer with encouragement in mind! Remember that most people will not attribute the same meaning to the same words! Clarify what and how you say something!
15. Allow others to give you constructive feedback whether it is ideas, suggestions, critiques, or confrontation; incongruent or not, listen and be in prayer about what you can learn and improve about yourself.
16. Being defensive or condescending, name calling, labeling people, being prideful, and arrogance are listening, communication and relationship killers!
17. Having selective hearing, ignoring important other information and only willing to listen to what you want to hear will seriously hamper your relationships as well as ability to communicate.
18. Do not jump to conclusions or be judgmental or legalistic! Having assumptions about the other person that may or may not be true hinders listening and communication.
19. Not speaking or communicating clearly, or being dishonest so the other person cannot hear what you say will lead to others forming untrue assumptions to causing serious and detrimental misunderstandings.
20. Keep in mind that when a person's feelings are hurt, he or she will retaliate, not negotiate!
21. Do not overreact! Always, always ask for clarification!
22. Whether you are a pastor, doctor, lawyer, or a dogcatcher, keeping confidences is paramount!
23. Always be a learner; seek what you can learn from this person, from this situation, and from mistakes made by you or others.
To effectively listen, we need to give the other person our full attention. We must be willing to build the skills of empathetic and active listening. To do this, we first need to concentrate on quieting our own thoughts and concerns so we can hear theirs. We all have a natural, internal commentary going; try to shut it off until afterwards. This will help you engage the person and remember what he or she is saying.
1. If you want to interact effectively with and/or influence another person, you first need to understand them!
2. When talking to someone, develop rapport by demonstrating sincere interest in him or her; focus on him or her as a child of God by investing time. This should be the most important person in the room for you!
3. Be empathetic; consider how you would feel in their situation. Good listeners will be sensitive and show care by identifying and having compassion for the other person and not be disconnected or detached. Sometimes, it is necessary in professional type relationships to have set some boundaries when interacting with patients or colleagues. However, it is essential to show empathy and care.
4. Honor and hear others' thoughts and feelings; express positive feelings and feedback.
5. Listen to the words and try to determine the essence of those words. Keep in mind that what you think they are saying is not always what they are really saying, so ask questions so to clarify and gather more information.
6. Do not jump to conclusions! Do not form your impressions by preconceptions, stereotyping, or generalizing.
1. How would you define good Communication? Can you give a good example?
2. How would learning how to communicate improve your relationships? What part does Communication play in your relationships with church members, friends, co-workers, and family?
3. How does not listening to others impact your relationships? What is the cost to others (God, family, friends, neighbors, church family, co-workers, etc.) when you are a person who is not willing to express yourself effectively?
4. What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you fail to listen?
5. When have you been filled with the character of good Communication the most?
6. In what situation did you fail to have an attitude of good Communication when you should have?
7. What issue is in your life that would improve with more effective Communicating?
8. Think through the steps you need to take to put good Communication into action in a specific instance, such as, where is positive Communicating not functioning properly in my Christian walk and what can I do about it? What good communication skills are lacking in you? What can you do to develop them and put them into practice?
Having a problem? Ask, what can we do to solve this problem together? What are some steps you see that could resolve this issue? If that does not work, place the issue on what the purpose of the Christian life is about, to worship and glorify Christ. How can we develop a solution that glorifies our Lord (Prov. 19:11; Matt. 18:15-17; Eph. 4:29)?
Remember that LISTENING IS ESSENTIAL! Good friend-makers are good listeners. Be the person who listens (John 8:47; James 1:19-25)!
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/