In a time in which families have been isolated, meetings are happening by phone or Zoom, and when we can't physically be together, communication can be challenging. Hurt feelings and misunderstanding may abound if we're not careful, leading to problems and disunity. In order to help your communication with others, read this helpful article from our counselor, Vikki Crouch.
Communication is vital to every relationship. It is vital in our relationship with God as well as our communication with each other. It involves our words, our tone, pitch, volume, gestures and facial expressions, etc. But it involves another aspect often overlooked: listening.
Because communication is important in relationships, it is paramount we do so accurately. It is also important we receive what is being communicated accurately. The basic truth is this: the message sent is not always the message received. You know what you are trying to convey but the other person may misunderstand and unless this is rectified as soon as possible, misunderstandings and their consequences reign. Sometimes the consequences can be large. Here are some considerations.
To begin with, God gave us one mouth and two ears. Could it be He is trying to tell us to listen 2 X more than we speak? And we should listen well rather than interrupt and try to insert our "2 cents worth" before someone is finished. We can clarify our understanding by simply stating, "Are you telling me _____________? What did you mean when you said ___________?" We can summarize our understanding by asking, "Of all you just said, what do you most want me to understand? What do you want from me right now?" Doing these simple things can clear up misunderstandings immediately and avoid a possible problem down the road. So, make sure you accurately understand what the other person is saying before you respond.
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Prov. 15:1) The tongue can undoubtedly ignite a "forest fire" of harm when used recklessly (James 3:5-6) Ephesians 4:31-32 give us the approach to take. These verses tell us to dispense with bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, and malice, and replace them with kindness, forgiveness, and Christ-like love. Therefore, consider such comments as the following: "Thank you for your concern about this. Do you have any suggestions as to what I could do to improve in this area? I wasn't seeing that – thank you for bringing that to my attention." These are but a few of the appropriate ways one can respond without malice, anger, and slander but with love and gentle words that can promote a better understanding rather than start an argument or add fuel to the fire of one already burning. The goal is communication that glorifies God by being both accurate in understanding and loving in response.
One last morsel of wisdom. People do not always want you to solve their challenges-sometimes they just want you to listen to them and understand. Do not be too quick to tell them your opinion. Make sure you listen well and respond appropriately. "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!" (Ps. 141:3) "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." (Ps. 19:14)