On Faith: The six rules of communicationWe live in a world of rapidly advancing communication technology. Nevertheless, we continually demonstrate poor communication skills. Maybe it’s because we think that communication consists of convenient, speedy ways to tell others what we think.
By: Joseph Whiting, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
We live in a world of rapidly advancing communication technology. Nevertheless, we continually demonstrate poor communication skills. Maybe it’s because we think that communication consists of convenient, speedy ways to tell others what we think.
Merely sending information does not make communication. As sociologists will explain, communication is a complex process of exchanging information.
Communication breakdowns can occur anywhere in the process and may negatively affect our relationship with others. Our creator knows that effective communication is important. He has provided a passage in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians that teaches us six principles for effective communication
Always speak truthfully. “…Putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth…” (Eph. 4:25). Nothing damages a relationship like a lie. One lie leads to more lies and soon the relationship is headed for destruction. Honesty means being open and truthful. It is not being honest when we clam up in order to keep the peace. In verse 15, we are reminded that we must “speak the truth in love.” It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
Deal with conflict right away. “Be angry, and do not sin. … Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26-27). It’s always harder to repair problems that have been allowed to go too long. Anger in and of itself may not be sinful so long as we allow the anger to motivate us to resolve the conflict as soon as possible. Unresolved anger leads to bitterness of soul.
Meet the needs of others. “…Steal no longer, but … have something to give him who has need” (Eph. 4:28). Some relationships are one-sided; one person takes without giving in return. By being “others focused,” we show that we are genuinely interested in a strong relationship that benefits both of us. By communicating and behaving in a way that shows “it’s not about me,” our relationships grow stronger.
Avoid foul language. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth … and do not grieve the Holy Spirit…” (Eph. 4:29-30). A corrupt word refers to speech that is rotten or putrid like decaying meat. Our communication really “stinks” to the Holy Spirit when we assault another’s character, tearing him down rather than building him up.
Fight the problem, not people. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you…” (Eph. 4:31). Sometimes we get confused about what we’re fighting. Rather than fighting people, our fight should be against wrong conduct, ours included. Once we determine that our real enemy is a sinful behavior, we’ll be better equipped to communicate in a way that resolves conflict.
Be proactive, not reactive. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…” (Eph. 4:32). Reactions never solve relationship problems. Only when we choose to act rather than react is reconciliation possible. Unresolved arguments are only possible when there are two people reacting toward each other. God says that the actions He expects from us are kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness. This may seem impossible in the heat of an argument, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4;13).
Changing unhealthy ways of communicating is not easy, but it can be done. We should remember that no matter how badly someone else has behaved in his words and actions, we are responsible for how we act and speak.